Stacy Lewis demonstrated why she is the current World No. 1 today with a faultless display of golf in Round One of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. The American pulled out a single shot lead over S. Korean quartet Na Yeon Choi, Hee Young Park, So YeonRyuand Eun-HeeJi, finishing six shots under par at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Lewis shot three birdies on her way out with a further three on the back nine and no bogeys to record a score of 65. Asked about her first round, the Texan said, “Another week and I got off to a good start again. It was kind of one of those rounds that early it was actually kind of shaky and had to make a few par putts on the first three holes, but really just kind of hung in there and gave myself a lot of birdie looks at it and was fortunate to make a few. So it was a little bit of an ugly round, but I got a lot out of it.”
The early pace was set by So YeonRyu who picked up a birdie on the first hole, followed by four consecutive birdies on holes four to seven, together with a further three on the back nine. The stylish winner of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in Augustdropped shots on the ninth, 14thand 15thholes but was happy to be back in Malaysia, adding:
“This is definitely one of my favorite stops on the Asian swing. The golf course is fabulous and great to play. They support so many junior golfers, so I feel always special to be here. Before I won the Canadian Open, I had a kind of big winning drought, so I don't want to make another two year winning drought, so I really look forward to making another win in Malaysia.”
Tied in sixth place behind the Koreans, at four under par is Shanshan Feng from China, PornanongPhatlum from Thailand and fellow Koreans Amy Yang, Jenny Shin and MiHyang Lee.But it was a day to forget for defending champion Lexi Thompson. The 19 year old shot five birdies but gave it all away on three holes, scoring two double bogeys and a birdie in succession on holes seven, eight and nine to finish on even par.
Among the Malaysian contingent, it’s China LPGA tour player Michelle Koh that leads the field. The 23 year old from Kuantan Pahang finished the day tied in 55th place alongside Charley Hull and Caroline Masson, with a very respectable one shot over par.
One of six Malaysian Angels competing in the 2014 edition, Koh said, “I will take it. I've got to say I got a little bit technical on the golf course in the beginning. Had a good start, but I sort of started leaning into the technical side, so I was hitting it bad in the middle, saved a few strokes, got the comeback, and hit it good. Didn't make as many birdies as I would like but gave myself opportunities. Going to bring it to the next couple of days and sink another extra few birdies.”
Asked if she felt the pressure with the expectations of the nation on her shoulders, the player who finished last year’s tournament as best ranked amateur added, “A little bit. A little bit. I've got to say, last night as I was going to bed, I was thinking like, oh, my gosh, the first day already; what's going to happen. Then I told myself it's just golf. You've just got to go out there, do your best and see how it goes.”
One shot behind Koh are Aretha Pan and AinilBakar, both on two over par. LPGA Tour player Kelly Tan got off to the worst possible start with a double bogey on the par four first hole, followed by a bogey on the third and a further double bogey on the 11th. A pair of birdies on the eighth and 15th holes kept the score respectable but she will be expecting better tomorrow. Jean Chua and Michele Low are both a shot further back on 4 over par and tied in 71st place alongside no less than World No.15Paula Creamer.
With Friday officially designated Ladies Day and the field tightly bunched, there’s an opportunity for one lady to shine and make it their day. The Koreans are looking strong but so too is the World No.1.
Spectators at this year’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia can enjoy first- class entertainment both on and off the fairways as KLGCC transforms itself into a festival destination for the duration of the tournament, complete with live music, street art, a showcase of Malaysian and international cuisine, health and beauty treatments, and activities for all ages to enjoy.
Highlights of the festivities include Ladies Day (Friday), Pink Saturday and Family Day (Sunday), each with its own distinct character, designed to appeal to different members of the community. At the Poolside Fiesta spectators will be able to enjoy an eclectic mix of live music between 3pm and 6pm each day from a variety of leading local artists and DJ’s including Patricia K, Atilia, and Bihzhu, ensuring that the party continues well after the last ball drops at the end of each day’s play.
The fifth edition of the US$ 2 million purse Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia takes place on the East Course at KLGCC from 9-12 October 2014. 75 players are competing in the 72-hole stroke play, no cut tournament for one of the largest prize purses in Asia.
Tickets for the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 2014 are available at www.ticketpro.com.my, Ticketpro outlets and Ticketpro hotline +603 7880 7999.For additional tournament news and updates visit: simedarbylpgamalaysia.com and follow on Twitter and Instagram @SimeDarbyLPGA and on Facebook at facebook.com/SimeDarbyLPGAMalaysia.