Issued on: 01/20/2022 – 23:38Modified: 01/20/2022 – 23:36
Miami (AFP) – Mexico’s Gaby Lopez snapped two late birdies to take a one-shot lead at Thursday’s LPGA Tour season-opening Tournament of Champions in Florida.
The 28-year-old world number 53 birdied on her 16th and 18th holes on her way to five under par 67 at Orlando’s Lake Nona Golf and Country Club.
Lopez’s strong finish completed a solid opening round that started with a bogey six on hole 10 of the par-72 layout.
However, that was the only blemish for Lopez, who reeled off three birdies in the front nine before adding three more down the stretch.
That was good enough to give her a slim lead over four players who were in second place with four players – world number ones Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Ryann O’Toole and Yuka Saso of Japan.
“Today was a pretty clean lap,” said Lopez afterwards.
“I think we hardly made any mistakes. My caddy and I did a great job with the strategy, we could only attack the pins we were comfortable with.
“The ones we weren’t will just be smart. And yes, to be able to get the shots I want is really nice.”
Korda’s 68 came in a rollercoaster round with three bogeys, five birdies and an eagle.
The American got off to a rocky start with two bogeys on her first four holes before bouncing back with three straight birdies on the fifth, sixth and seventh holes.
Another birdie on the 10th was followed by a brilliant eagle 3 on the par-5 11th, taking her to 4 under before her third bogey of the round on the 12th. On the 15th, she recaptured that dropped shot with a birdie before finishing with three pars.
“I just sprayed it all over the place, left, right, you name it,” Korda said of her erratic start.
“I just thought, ‘Okay, this is going to be a grind today,’ which it was.
“I still caught a few loose shots here and there, but on those three holes I hit them close and capitalized on that.”
Korda’s sister Jessica, the defending champion, is among a group of three players who are another shot back to three under, two ahead after carding 69s.
Jessica Korda ended the day alongside Pajaree Anannarukam from Thailand and Brooke Henderson from Canada.
Stacy Lewis and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom are three down to two shorthanded ahead of France’s Celine Boutier, England’s Georgia Hall and Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit.
© 2022 AFP