Four Share The Lead After One At LPGA Volvik Championship
Four players share the lead after the first round of the LPGA Volvik Championship: Moriya Jutanugarn, Caroline Masson, Amy Olson and Danielle Kang. The quartet are at six under at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor.
Seven players are one shot behind: Megan Khang, Jessica Korda, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hatoka, Lindy Duncan and Morgan Pressel. Six more are just two back.
Jutanugarn and Korda are trying to become just the second repeat winner of the 2018 LPGA season, which has seen 12 different winners through as many events.
Olson, who teed off at 7:59 am, jumped to an early lead. She had seven birdies to go with just one bogey and for a while was all alone at the top. In spite of that, she said that she was not feeling comfortable.
It’s a lot of fun obviously to make some birdies out there and be in this position. Made a bogey coming in and honestly I didn’t feel quite comfortable with my swing out there. I hit a lot of great shots, but definitely going to go work on a couple things.
On her round of 66, Olson hit 7 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens. Most importantly, Olson needed just 25 putts on the round.
Caroline Masson climbed to the top of the leaderboard on the strength of an eagle on the par five 14th. A driver and three wood got her to thirty feet. Then, a strong putt finished the deal. Masson said her putting was the key the entire round:
I played well last week, and my ball-striking was really good and I was struggling a little bit with the putts. Just changed a couple things with my coach, Gareth, earlier this week and it seemed to work. So it was just nice to see a couple go in and played pretty solid overall.
Masson became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2016 Manulife LPGA Classic. At the Volvik on Thursday, she hit 10 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens.
Co-leader Moriya Jutanugarn is the sister of the winner of the inaugural LPGA Volvik Championship winner, Ariya. She won won the 2018 HUGEL-HTBC LA Open in April for her first LPGA win. The key, to her bogey free round of 66 on Thursday, Moriya said was keeping it simple:
It just nothing much, like pretty much you just hit the shot, go find the ball, hit another shot. If you don’t make putt, just go hit another putt. Just trying to keep it simple. I mean, I had a lot of fun out there, yeah.
Jutanugarn hit 13 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens. This is her thirteenth start of the season, and she is seeking her fifth top-10 finish of the season. She is one of three LPGA players who has started all 13 events this season.
Jutanugarn also noted how much she liked Ann Arbor.
Of course really enjoy always to come back. It’s one of the weesk I can spend time with the kids, like my best friends. It’s very great spot to come back always.
Jutanugarn and Masson played in the same group.
Danielle Kang was the lone player among the leaders who started in the afternoon. She birdied three holes on the front nine, and then repeated the feat on the back. Her goal, however, was to be patient and have a bogey-free round.
We just stayed really patient and I had a bogey-free round, and I kind of wanted to do a bogey-free round today, I don’t know why. Woke up, was like, I don’t want to make any bogeys today, let’s just try that. I know that’s weird. I rolled the putts really well, I’m hitting the ball really good, even from last week. Just my game feels really great, so just keep giving myself birdie chances.
Kang is known for avoiding mistakes. At the HSBC Women’s World Championship, she played 50 consecutive holes without a bogey. Kang hit 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens. Her best finish this season was a T-2 at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
University of Michigan golfer Ashley Kim is at +7. Kim, a freshman, was a sponsor’s exemption into the tournament and is the only amateur in the field.
Nasa Hatoka’s bogey-free, five-under 67 on Thursday was her fourth consecutive bogey-free round.
For many of the players, the LPGA Volvik represents the final chance to win and earn a full exemption into next week’s US Open Women’s Championship. One of those is Morgan Pressel. She made her debut in the US Open in 2001 at age 13, and tied for second in 2005 at age 17. If she wins, Pressel, now 30, will continue a streak of consecutive US Open appearances extending back to 2004.
It’s definitely in the back of my mind. This is essentially my last shot,” said Pressel, whose opening-round 67 puts her a tie for fifth and right in the hunt for the win. “Had plenty of chances to qualify and haven’t made it, so it’s definitely on my mind. But there’s a long way to go and I just — for me, it’s really about putting solid rounds of golf together. It’s a long season and I’m just happy to be a little bit more confident in my golf game.
Pressel celebrated her birthday on Wednesday of this week:
Well, I always talk about birthday birdies, and I couldn’t play on my official birthday so I tried to make as many birthday birdies today as I could to make up for yesterday. That’s always good. Eight birthday birdies is pretty good, we’ll take it.