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South Korea’s Ku Ok Hee maintained the form that brought the JLPGA Tour veteran her first victory in two years last week, shooting a 4-under-par 68 for the lead after the opening round of the Japan LPGA Championship on Thursday.

News photoYasuharu Imano watches his shot during the first round of the Suntory Open at Sobu Country Club in Inzai, Chiba Prefecture.

Ku sank two long putts from more than 30 feet at Nos. 9 and 11 in a stretch of three consecutive birdies on her way to a one-stroke lead over Toshimi Kimura and Mikiyo Nishizuka at the Taiheiyo Club’s Rokko Course.

Pair tied for lead

INZAI, Chiba Pref. (Kyodo) Yasuharu Imano and Hiroyuki Fujita matched each other with seven birdies and a bogey for 6-under-par 65s to share the first-round lead at the Suntory Open on Thursday.

Imano, who played the back nine first, birdied five of his last eight holes while Fujita capped his round with a birdie-birdie finish in gusty conditions at the Sobu Country Club.

Defending champion Shingo Katayama found himself in a four-way tie for third after a 68, which featured five birdies against a pair of bogeys. Hidemasa Hoshino, Satoshi Higashi and Steven Conran of Australia also went 3-under.

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