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Koalas get lucky as Ewart Shadoff leads Australian Open


ADELAIDE, Bahamas: Jodi Ewart Shadoff made a lot of koalas happy by sinking seven birdies to lead the LPGA Australian Open with defending champion Nelly Korda three shots adrift after Thursday’s first round.

The Englishwoman fired a blemish-free 66 around the par-73 Royal Adelaide Golf Club having pledged to donate $100 for every birdie to a koala rescue charity with her sponsor matching the sum.

Ewart Shadoff has one-stroke lead ahead of South Koreans Lee Jeong-eun and Park In-bee with three Americans — Marina Alex, Jillian Hollis and Amy Olson — a shot further back. Korda, the daughter of former Australian Open Grand Slam tennis champion Petr, is lurking in a pack of 10 after a four-under 69.

Ewart Shadoff benefited from being back in the clubhouse before breezy conditions kicked in and with seven birdies in the bag already, that’s $1,400 to help the furry marsupials.

“I mean again, really solid, really happy to make seven birdies. I’m donating to the Adelaide Koala Rescue this week for birdies, so it’s nice to make a tonne today,” she said.

She would be making a lot of koalas happy, she replied: “Yes, I hope so.”

Ewart Shadoff’s best showing on the LPGA Tour was her second place at the 2017 British Open. She said: “I feel ready,” when asked of she could grab her maiden victory.

She will be keeping a close watch on world number three Korda, who last year added to an amazing family tradition of winning top titles in Australia. In holding off South Korean Ko Jin-young, she joined her father, sister and brother in being crowned an Open champion on Australian soil.

“I had a solid day out there,” said Korda, who won two LPGA events last year to race up the rankings. “I drove the ball really well. Kind of didn’t take advantage of all my opportunities, but it’s just the first day so hopefully I can just build from here on.” — AFP

LPGA Australian Open

first-round scores

(USA unless stated, par 73):

66 - Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG)

67 - Lee Jeong-eun (KOR), Park In-bee (KOR)

68 - Marina Alex, Amy Olsen, Jillian Hollis

69 - An Ho-yu (TPE), Choi Na-yeon (KOR), Dani Holmqvist (SWE), Hsu Wei-ling (TPE), Nelly Korda, Madelene Sagstrom (SWE), Yan Jing (CHN), Kristen Gillman, Hannah Green (AUS), Kelly Tan (MAS)

70 - Brittany Altomare, Dottie Ardina (PHI), Tonje Daffinrud (NOR), Manon De Roey (BEL), Georgia Hall (ENG), Kang Hae-ji (KOR), Pernilla Lindberg (SWE), Christina Kim, Minjee Lee (AUS), Stacy Lewis, Mind Muangkhumsakul (THA), Ally McDonald, Stephanie Meadow (NIR), Lizette Salas, Jasmine Suwannapura (THA)

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