Ko has Lopez in sights

Sunday News - - SPORT -

LY­DIA Ko’s form resur­gence has con­tin­ued in the open­ing round of the lat­est LPGA tour­na­ment in the US.

The New Zealan­der shot a five-un­der-par 66 in the first round of the NW Arkansas Cham­pi­onship yes­ter­day.

That left her in a share of 15th spot on a day of low scores in the three-round event.

Ko is com­ing off a third-place fin­ish last week in the LPGA Clas­sic in Michi­gan.

The for­mer world No 1 had four birdies and an ea­gle two on a par-four hole, along with a soli­tary birdie.

Mex­ico’s Gaby Lopez shot a ca­reer-low eight-un­der 63 to take the first-round lead at the Pin­na­cle Coun­try Club.

Lopez starred as a three-time All-Amer­i­can for the Univer­sity of Arkansas be­fore join­ing the LPGA Tour in 2016. De­spite flashes of po­ten­tial, Lopez missed the cut in her last two tour­na­ments and en­ter­ing this week ranked 136th in the world.

For a day, at least, the Mex­i­can stand­out felt right at home atop the leader­board in her adopted home state.

‘‘I feel like home,’’ Lopez said. ‘‘I feel so, so com­fort­able out here, be­cause I feel that every­one and every sin­gle per­son out here is just root­ing for us.’’

Moriya Ju­tanu­garn was a stroke back along with Min­jee Lee, Ca­tri­ona Matthew, Nasa Hataoka, Lizette Salas, Mirim Lee and Aditi Ashok.

Six oth­ers fin­ished at six­un­der on a day when only 26 of the 144 play­ers fin­ished over par, thanks to some mid­week rain that soft­ened the greens and calm skies through­out the day.

Ju­tanu­garn fin­ished sec­ond at the tour­na­ment last year and is try­ing to win for the sec­ond time on the LPGA Tour this year. Her younger sis­ter, Ariya, is al­ready a two-time win­ner this year and shot an open­ing-round 66.

Stacey Lewis, the for­mer world No 1 who won the event in 2007 and 2014, fin­ished with a 66. She’s ex­pect­ing her first child in early Novem­ber. De­fend­ing cham­pion So Yeon Ryu, com­ing off a vic­tory on Mon­day in Michi­gan, shot a 67.

It was Lopez’s long-awaited day to stand out, though, much to the de­light of the proArkansas crowd.

Af­ter miss­ing the cut her last two times out, Lopez took some time off and re­turned home to Mex­ico City to rest her mind and work on her game.

The work paid off with two straight birdies to open her round and a six-un­der 30 on her front nine.

Lopez needed only 25 putts and fin­ished two shots off the course record of 61, and she over­came a poor drive on the par-five 18th to fin­ish with a par and keep her place at the top of the leader­board.

Her pre­vi­ous low score was a 64 last year, and she matched her ca­reer best by fin­ish­ing at eight- un­der.

Mean­while, Brian Har­man shot a four-un­der 66 yes­ter­day to move to 10-un­der par and watched that hold up for the sec­ond-round lead in the Trav­el­ers Cham­pi­onship, thanks in part to a 10-sec­ond rule.

Har­man fin­ished a stroke ahead of Matt Jones and first round co-leader Zach John­son, who lost a stroke dur­ing his round of 68 when his birdie putt – AP GETTY IMAGES hung on the lip of the cup at the third hole for longer than the max­i­mum al­lowed 10 sec­onds be­fore fall­ing in, giv­ing him a par.

‘‘Af­ter 10 sec­onds, the ball was mov­ing and at that point even if the ball is mov­ing, it’s deemed to be at rest, be­cause it’s on the lip,’’ John­son said.

‘‘Don’t ask me why, but that’s just the way it is.’’

New Zealand’s Ly­dia Ko is three shots be­hind the leader af­ter the first round of theNWArkansas Cham­pi­onship.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.