OTSU, Shiga Pref. (Kyodo) Annika Sorenstam kick-started her bid for a third straight title at the Mizuno Classic on Friday by firing a 9-under-par 63 for a two-shot lead over South Korean pair Grace Park and Lee Jung Yeon after the first round in Shiga Prefecture.

The 33-year-old super Swede played aggressively to the pin and made five birdies through her first seven holes at Seta Golf Course and stayed bogey-free after the turn, closing her round by rolling her ninth and final birdie of the day from seven feet on the 18th.

“I hit 17 greens and every fairway so I had a lot of birdie opportunities. I’m very, very happy,” said Sorenstam, who is aiming to win four out of her last five LPGA tournaments in Japan. “Today was very good. On a scale from 1-10 it was probably an eight.”

A win this week would officially clinch the Rolex Player of the Year title for the 47-time LPGA event winner, even with two official tournaments remaining in the season.

Park had eight birdies and a bogey while Lee collected seven birdies in a bogey-free round over the 6,450-yard North Course.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.