Korda one behind leader Lopez at LPGA season opener

Lopez shot a five-under-par 67 on Thursday to grab a one-shot lead at the LPGA’s season-opening event in Florida; watch round two of the Tournament of Champions live on Sky Sports Mix from 5pm on Friday

Last Updated: 20/01/22 11:06pm

World No 1 Nelly Korda is one shot off the lead
World No 1 Nelly Korda is one shot off the lead

Mexico’s Gaby Lopez holds a one-shot lead after the opening round of Tournament of Champions, ahead of a chasing group that includes World No 1 Nelly Korda. 

Lopez shot a five-under-par 67 on Thursday to grab a one-shot lead at the LPGA’s season-opening event in Florida.

The 29-player field is tightly-packed, with 18 players shooting under par in the opening round at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Orlando.

Korda is in a group of four players one shot off the pace at four-under that includes fellow Americans Danielle Kang and Ryann O’Toole along with Japan’s Yuka Saso. Another shot back are Korda’s sister and defending champion, Jessica, along with Canadian Brooke Henderson and Thailand’s Pajaree Anannarukarn.

England's Georgia Hall is three shots off the lead on two-under
England’s Georgia Hall is three shots off the lead on two-under

England’s Georgia Hall finished two-under, alongside Solheim Cup team-mate Celine Boutier of France. Hall struck six birdies to go along with four bogies in an eventful opening round.

They’re all chasing Lopez, the 2020 event champion at the Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club.

After a bogey at the 11th – her second hole on Thursday – Lopez adapted quickly to the new Orlando venue by going six-under over her final 14 holes.

Lopez outlasted Nasa Hataoka and Inbee Park in a seven-hole playoff two years ago, while Kang lost on the first playoff hole against Jessica Korda last year. Kang’s only blemish on her scorecard was a bogey at the 10th.

England's Georgia Hall is three shots off the lead on two-under
England’s Georgia Hall is three shots off the lead on two-under

Nelly Korda showed her own rust during a far more adventurous round. She was two-over through four holes before reeling off three consecutive birdies.

Korda added another birdie at the 10th before hitting her approach shot on the par-five 11th hole to four feet and converting the eagle. In all, her card featured five birdies, three bogies and the eagle.

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“I was just kind of spraying it everywhere, left, right, you name it,” she said. “I was just like, ‘OK, so this is going to be a grind today.’ Which it was.

“I still hit some loose shots here and there coming in, but hit it close on those three holes and kind of capitalised on that.”

Nelly Korda recovered from being two-over through four holes
Nelly Korda recovered from being two-over through four holes

Korda holds the longest run by an American at No 1 and will keep it this week with South Korea’s Jin Young Ko not in the field. Korda competed in last month’s PNC Challenge with her sister and said she plans to skip the tour’s upcoming Asia swing and use that as her “offseason.”

Michelle Wie West, competing following maternity leave courtesy of her 2018 victory at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, opened with a one-under 71 and is tied for 14th. The 32-year-old had five birdies to help offset four bogies.

LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam leads the celebrity competition by one point with 33 on Thursday. Defending champion Mardy Fish is in a tie for 14th with 27.

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Source : Sky Sports