Johnson grabs Shoprite Classic lead

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Jennifer Johnson shot a course record-equalling 9-under-par 62 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Shoprite LPGA Classic.

The 22-year-old American carded 10 birdies in all on Friday – including five in a row from the ninth – at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in New Jersey.

“I’ve been playing well the past few weeks, so I felt pretty good about my game,” Johnson said. “If you just let it happen and just let a good round come together, normally it does.”

Johnson lies one shot clear of Japan’s Haru Nomura, while her countryman Christina Kim is in third on 7-under.

Korean duo Na Yeon Choi and World No 1 Inbee Park follow on five under, while a large group of players that includes Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis and Sandra Gal lie on four under par.

Leader Johnson also shot a 63 on this course back in 2012, so something about the layout seems to agree with her.

“On 17, that’s when I was 8 under and I was trying to beat my 63,” Johnson said. “So then I started getting a little nervous because my goal was to get to 10 under, but I only got to 9. But when you shoot something that you’ve never shot before, nerves are going to happen.”

Second-placed Nomura’s 63 was her lowest ever round in LPGA golf.

“All in all, my putting was on, my shot was really good and the conditions were great,” Nomura said. “So everything was perfect today.”

World No 1 Park hasn’t won yet this season, and missed her first cut in 22 LPGA events last week in Alabama.

A 15-footer for birdie at the first, however, settled her nerves.

“I was a little bit worried before I teed off today because of last week’s finish,” Park said. “But after I birdied the first hole, that really gave me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the 17 holes.”

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