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Rookie Park grabs early lead


ROGERS, United States: Park Sung-Hyun rolled in six straight birdies as she rode a hot putter to an eight-under 63 and a two-shot lead after the first round of the LPGA Tour’s Arkansas Championship on Friday.

The Tour rookie ended her birdie run with her only bogey of the day then fashioned three more birdies on the back nine. She maintained the lead despite hitting just eight of 13 fairways.

“My play was best with putter today, very good,” Park said.

The opening round was delayed for nearly an hour because of poor weather.

Three players are two shots back of Park, including fellow South Korean Ryu So-Yeon, Mel Reid and Ally McDonald.

Park is one of two rookies in the top four as Reid shot a 65 to post her low round of the season. Reid, who missed the cut in her last three tournaments, birdied five of her first seven holes.

A hole-in-one at the par-three 11th moved her to eight under, but she made bogey on two of the final seven holes.

Ryu shot a bogey-free 65 while carding a half dozen birdies. McDonald finished with seven birdies and a bogey.

Former winner Stacy Lewis was part of a group that included Juli Inkster, Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn, Felicity Johnson and Katherine Kirk at five under.

Defending champion Lydia Ko shot a one-under 70. — AFP

LPGA Northwest Arkansas Championship scores

First round (par 71, USA unless noted):

63 — Park Sung Hyun (KOR)

65 — Mel Reid (ENG), Ally McDonald, Ryu So-Yeon (KOR)

66 — Stacy Lewis, Katherine Kirk (AUS), Felicity Johnson (ENG), Moriya Jutanugarn (THA), Juli Inkster

67 — Pornanong Phatlum (THA), Austin Ernst, Gerina Piller, Lee-Anne Pace (RSA), Lee Mi-Hyang (KOR), Megan Khang, Lee Mi-Rim (KOR), Lee Jeong-Eun

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