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Tavatanakit cruises to ANA Inspiration lead

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LOS ANGELES: Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit fired a stress-free six-under par 66 to take the first round lead on Thursday in the year’s first golf major, the LPGA ANA Inspiration.


Patty, who played college golf at the University of California at Los Angeles, didn’t let any major championship nerves get the better of her, grabbing six birdies without a bogey for a one-shot lead over Chinese veteran Feng Shanshan and Ireland’s Leona Maguire. “It was a pretty calm and relaxing day today,” said the 21-year-old, who is in her second year as an LPGA member after a rookie season disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.


“I just stuck to my game plan and didn’t get too greedy out there. I know it’s a major, it’s tough, the course is really tough.


“I was just being really patient and I was waiting for putts to drop, and they did on the back nine.”


After two front nine birdies, Patty rolled in four coming home. That included three in a row at 13, 14 and 15 and a final flourish at the five 18th. “First off, you have to hit a good drive there, which I did,” she said of the 18th, playing as a true island green this week without spectator grandstands.


“I picked a really good line. And I had a 6-iron in, so it’s pretty much a long par-four, 178 to the flag. I just wanted to hit the green... and I was able to stop it just pin high.”


Patty topped a crowded leaderboard that saw a dozen players within three shots of the lead — a group that included world number one Ko Jin-young of South Korea, Thai sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn and two-time major champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden.


Feng, a 10-time LPGA winner, looked anything but rusty in her first tour event since the Tour Championship in November 2019. She had five birdies in her five-under effort, topping the leaderboard until Patty passed her by. “I was kind of nervous last night,” Feng said, “but I said to myself, ‘Hey, it’s OK. Think about you’re just an old rookie.” — AFP


LPGA ANA Inspiration first-round scores


(USA unless noted, par-72):


66 - Patty Tavatanakit (THA)


67 - Leona Maguire (IRL), Feng Shanshan (CHN)


68 - Ariya Jutanugarn (THA), Anna Nordqvist (SWE), Megan Khang, Moriya Jutanugarn (THA)


69 - Lee Mi-rim (KOR), Jessica Korda, Jennifer Kupcho, Ko Jin-young (KOR), Georgia Hall (ENG), Charley Hull (ENG), Bronte Law (ENG), Yuka Saso (JPN)


70 - Gerina Piller, Sophia Popov (GER), Park In-bee (KOR), Dani Holmqvist (SWE), Azahara Munoz (ESP), Pornanong Phatlum (THA), Carlota Ciganda (ESP), Christina Kim, Cheyenne Knight, Lydia Ko (NZL), Amy Yang (KOR), Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie West, Sarah Kemp (AUS)


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