LOS ANGELES: Thai rookie Natthakritta Vongtaveelap and Sweden's Frida Kinhult opened up a two-shot lead after the first round of the LPGA Tour's Lotte Championship in Hawaii on Wednesday.
Natthakritta, who only turned professional in November, fired a bogey-free six-under-par 66 to join Kinhult at the top of the leaderboard.
After teeing off on the 10th, the 20-year-old conjured a stunning eagle on the par-five fifth hole after the turn and then birdied her last to vault up the leaderboard.
It was another dazzling performance from the Thai youngster, who came within a whisker of winning on her Tour debut at the LPGA Thailand in February, only to end up losing by one stroke.
Kinhult was similarly impressive with her 66 in blustery conditions, reeling off seven birdies to move to seven under before a bogey at the last left her sharing the lead at Hoakalei Country Club, west of Honolulu.
"I guess the windy conditions are similar to what I grew up with, and I spent winters in Spain growing up, and winter in Spain gets pretty windy, too," Kinhult said.
"Just tried to stay patient out there shot by shot for real in this wind... super happy with the start and pumped for the rest of the week."
Four players are lurking two shots behind the leaders, with the American Bailey Tardy, Nasa Hataoka of Japan and South Koreans Sung Yu-Jin and Kim Hyo-Joo tied on four under.-- AFP