Ko back on top

World number one Lydia Ko took the first step towards retaining her LPGA Swinging Skirts Classic title on Thursday when she carded a five-under 67 to take the 18-hole lead.

Ko, who turns 18 on Friday, carded six birdies and a bogey on the Lake Merced Golf Course in San Francisco to open up a one shot lead.

“I read most of (the greens) really well. I tried to be confident with the reads I had. It’s tough here so you can’t really be overly aggressive,” Ko told AFP.

The New Zealander has already won two tournaments this year and is bidding to win the seventh of her short career.

“(I) holed some good putts and ended up with a 67. It’s a really good start, but I know I’ve got three more long days to go. Hopefully I can continue hitting solid shots,” she told the LPGA Tour website.

“This is a very tough golf course. You need to position yourself well, and even if you’re on the fairway sometimes it’s really hard to hold it on the green.

“It’s really tough in pretty much all aspects. I hit the ball pretty good where I wasn’t in too much trouble. If I did miss it a little bit I kind of got away with it, too.”

Ha Na Jang, 54-year-old Julie Inkster and PK Kongkraphan are tied for second, trailing Ko by a single shot.

World number three Stacey Lewis, who finished as runner up to Ko at last year’s tournament, is one of four players tied for fifth on three under.

Lewis shot five bogeys, six birdies and holed out from the fairway to card an eagle on the on the par-four eleventh hole in round one.

“I just finally made a really good golf swing there,” she said.

“That’s the part I was most excited about is I made a really good swing and hit the shot I was trying to hit. I kind of just got some confidence going after that with that swing.”

Morgan Pressel, Caroline Hedwall and Na Yeon Choi are level with Lewis, while 10 players are tied for ninth on two-under.