By KALANI TAKASE, Associated Press
EWA BEACH, Hawaii (AP) — Hannah Green shot a 6-under 66 on Wednesday to take the lead after the first round of the LPGA Lotte Championship.
Green had eight birdies, including five on the front nine, at breezy Hoakalei Country Club, a first-time venue in the 10th edition of the tournament. The Australian hit 11 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation and needed just 26 putts.
“I’ve been hitting the ball good,” Green said. “I just felt like with the putter I just needed to see a couple go in. So, that’s kind of what led to my score today. Holed a couple longer ones, which is nice. Just made the hole feel a little bit bigger.”
She won both her tour titles in 2019, taking the major KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the Cambia Portland Classic.
“I really enjoy coming to Hawaii,” Green said. “It’s such a relaxed vibe, and I think that’s what we need a little bit more of when we’re on the golf course. This afternoon, I’m probably going to go to the beach. Hopefully, doesn’t get too much windier or might not be too pleasant.”
Hyo Joo Kim, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Aditi Ashok, Alison Lee and Gemma Dryburgh were a stroke back.
“We were lucky to get out kind of before it really started blowing,” Dryburgh said. “When we made the turn it got pretty strong. Yeah, just used my Scottish knowledge.”
Defending champion Lydia Ko opened with a bogey-free 69.
“I felt like I kept it in play for most parts,” Ko said. “The wind picked up quite a lot over my back nine, which is the front nine, so it made it a lot tougher out there.”
Brooke Henderson, the only player to have won the tournament twice, had a 74. She had back-to-back bogeys on the sixth and seventh holes, then dropped two more strokes with a double bogey on the 180-yard, par-3 ninth.
Jennifer Kupcho, coming off a major victory two weeks ago at Rancho Mirage in the California desert, also posted a 74 and is tied for 77th.
Danielle Kang, who owns four top-10 finishes this year, including a win at the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in January and is third in the Rolex Player of the Year point standings, withdrew from the field following her round of 76 due to injury.
Inbee Park, who finished tied for second at last year’s Lotte Championship, opened with a round of 80, her highest single-round score since the second round of the 2019 Mediheal Championship, when she also shot an 8-over 80.
The event was played at Ko Olina Golf Club for its first eight years, was canceled in 2020 and moved to Kapolei Golf Club last year.
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