LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Moriya Jutanugarn turned things around after a rocky start, firing 10 birdies in a six-under par 65 on Wednesday (April 21) for the early first-round lead in the LPGA Los Angeles Open.
The Thai was four-over par through her first five holes at Wilshire Country Club with a double bogey and two bogeys.
“Really a rollercoaster,” said Moriya, who battled back admirably after her double-bogey at the 11th – her second hole of the day.
That miscue, along with bogeys at 13 and 14, was forgotten as she reeled off six birdies in a row from the 15th through the second.
After a birdie at the fourth, she closed with another run of three straight birdies, playing her second nine in six-under par 29.
“I started to make some putts, then I had a lot more chances because I hit it closer. It was pretty fun,” said Moriya, who lifted the Los Angeles trophy in 2018.
“I didn’t realise until I signed the scorecard I shot 29 on the back side today.”
Her bravura finish saw her leapfrog over Americans Nelly Korda and Austin Ernst, who both reached six-under before falling back with late bogeys.
World number four Korda’s five-under 66 was highlighted by an eagle at the 16th. She added six birdies but her third bogey of the day at her final hole, the ninth, put her in the clubhouse tied with Ernst, who had six birdies but bogeyed her penultimate hole, the eighth.
World number one Ko Jin-young and number three Kim Sei-young were among a group of players in the clubhouse at four-under with afternoon starters still on the course.
New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, coming off a drought-busting victory at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii, had work to do after a double bogey seven at the par-five second hole and a bogey at the fourth.
Defending champion Minjee Lee of Australia, who missed the cut at Kapolei last week, was even through six holes with one birdie and one bogey.