First-round leader Park feels at home in LA Open

Los Angeles: South Korea’s Park In-Bee fired a five-under par 66 to grab on a one stroke lead after the first round of the USLPGA Tour’s inaugural LA Open on Thursday. Park rolled in four straight birdies beginning at the par-three No 12 and is one shot ahead of American Marina Alex at the Wilshire Country Club course.
“I played really well out there. Especially being the new golf course. I didn’t know how it was going to play,” Park said. “The course played really good. Really suited me. I putted well out there, so I was really happy with that.”
A large group is just two shots adrift of Park at three-under par, including Swede Pernilla Lindberg, Lexi Thompson, Caroline Inglis, Aditi Ashok, Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn, Ji Eun-hee and Emma Talley of the US.
Park decided to switch back to her old putter for this event after trying out a new one in recent weeks.
“Last week was just an awkward week where I missed a lot of short ones, and I wasn’t really comfortable with the putter,” Park said. “I just wanted to have a different look, so I changed it.”
Los Angeles is home to a large South Korean expat community and they were out in force on Thursday to cheer on Park.
“I never played a tournament outside of Korea having this much Korean supporters out,” said Park, who needed just 28 putts in her round. “I almost feel like I’m playing back home. It’s almost like a little Korea.”
Park tees off on Friday with playing partners Thompson and Anna Nordqvist.
Alex, who is seeking her first Tour win, shot four-under 67.
Alex got off to a hot start with consecutive birdies. She added three more, off-set by one bogey, to make the turn in 31.
“I putted really, really well today,” Alex said. “I made a lot of the putts that I shouldn’t, I wouldn’t have expected to make.” — AFP