SHANGHAI (AP) — Nasa Hataoka birdied three of the final six holes for a 5-under 67 and a share of the first-round lead with Amy Yang on Thursday in the Buick LPGA Shanghai, the first of four straight events in Asia.
Hataoka won the Kia Classic in California in March and has finished in the top seven in her last events on the LPGA and JLPGA circuits, winning JLPGA majors at the Japan LPGA Championship Konica Minolta Cup and Japan Women’s Open.
Making her first appearance in the event, the 20-year-old Japanese player birdied three of the four par-5 holes at Qizhong Garden.
“The par 5s are very short this week, so I feel like I make a birdie on par 5 I can kind of keep going,” Hataoka said through a translator.
Yang, from South Korea, matched Hataoka with six birdies and a bogey.
“I’m happy how I played,” said Yang, the Honda LPGA Thailand winner in February for her fourth career LPGA victory. “My swing felt very stable out there and hit some lot of solid shots out there and making some good putts, so it’s been a good round.”
Americans Jessica Korda and Angel Yin shot 68. Korda is making her first start since Solheim Cup.
“A little rusty with a couple shots,” said Korda, 3-0-1 last month in Scotland in the United States’ loss to Europe. “I’m going to go to the driving range and try to figure that out a little bit,” said Korda of her performance. “But, yeah, I was really proud of myself today. Speed of the greens was changing a lot. Definitely got a lot faster at the end, but I was able to keep it together.”
Defending champion Danielle Kang was at 69 with Brooke Henderson, Lydia Ko, Jennifer Kupcho, Mel Reid, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Bronte Law. Chinese star Shanshan Feng opened with a 70.
American Brittany Altomare had a hole-in-one on the 175-yard second hole in a 70. She used a 6-iron.
“I just came off a couple holes that didn’t really go my way and I felt good about the club that I had,” Altomare said. “Made a really good swing finally and went right where I wanted to and went in the hole.”
She won a Buick Lacrosse Avenir.
Top-ranked Jin Young Ko, coming off a victory last week on the Korean LPGA Tour, had four birdies and four bogeys in a 72. She’s making her first start on the LPGA Tour since the Cambia Portland Classic six weeks ago.
Cheyenne Knight had a 75. The Texan won the final full-field event two weeks ago outside Dallas to qualify for the Asian Swing events and avoid a trip to the LPGA qualifying series.