WILMINGTON, Del. — Japan’s Chiharu Yamaguchi fired a bogey-free 4-under-par 67 to grab a tie for second place, one shot off the pace in the first round of the LPGA Championship on Thursday.
The fifth-year pro rolled in four birdies to stand in a three-way tie for second with Gloria Park of South Korea and England’s Karen Stupples at the Dupont Country Club while Jennifer Rosales of the Philippines took sole possession of the lead with a bogey-free 66.
Defending champion Annika Sorenstam was in another group of three tied for fifth on 68 at the event, which is the second women’s major of the season.
“My shots and putts were really good today. It was almost perfect golf. I thought that the most important thing was to control my shots to the fairway,” said the 26-year-old Yamaguchi who is making her debut on the U.S. circuit this season.
“I would just like to continue playing at a high level,” said Yamaguchi, whose scorecard featured a 15-foot birdie on the par-4 10th hole.
Rosales won the NCAA title at Southern California as a freshman in 1998.
The 25-year-old Filipino, is still basking in her first LPGA Tour victory last month in Atlanta.
“My round was pretty smooth today,” Rosales said. “I hit a lot of fairways. That was the key. I missed a lot of putts out there. I kept putting and putting until I made some, and kept going.”
It took her all the way to the lead, the first time she has ever led an LPGA event after the first round. And Rosales knows it’s just that — one round.
“It’s a pretty good start for me,” Rosales said.
But all she had to do was look down the leaderboard to realize how much can change over 54 holes, especially with defending champion Annika Sorenstam and Grace Park, her old nemesis, just two shots behind.
Miyazato in front
YOKAWA, Hyogo Pref. (Kyodo) Teenage sensation Ai Miyazato shot a 2-under-par 70 on Friday to take the provisional lead after the rain-shortened second round of the Suntory Ladies Open.
Miyazato, 19, who became the youngest winner on the Japan pro tour when she won the season-opening Daikin Orchid Ladies, had five birdies and three bogeys at Japan Memorial Golf Club before heavy rain suspended play, leaving 33 players unable to finish their round.
The remainder of the second round and the third round will be played Saturday. Hiroko Yamaguchi was one of the players unable to complete her round and was level after 14 holes with Miyazato on 5-under 139.
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