Mika Miyazato claimed a one-shot lead after carding a six-under-par 65 in the first round of the Kingsmill Championship on Thursday.
Miyazato is closely followed by Minjee Lee and Brittany Lincicome, who are in a tie for second after firing five-under-par 66s.
A plethora of golfers are in a tie for fourth on four-under, including Sei Young Kim and the Thai duo of Moriya Jutanugarn and Pornanong Phatlum.
World number one Lydia Ko, who is returning from a four-week break, stumbled to a two-over-par 73, while world number two Inbee Park didn't fare much better, carding a three-over-par 74
Miyazato, who has not registered a top-10 finish this year, overcame tricky and wet conditions at the River Course to start her campaign with five birdies, four of which came in a row from the 15th to 18th.
While she was unable to maintain her momentum on her back nine, which consisted of two birdies and a bogey, it was enough to give her the outright lead.
Lee, who is coming off a strong showing at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, where she finished in a tie for sixth, looked in great form on the front nine as she made four birdies. Two more birdies followed at the 15th and 17th, but the LOTTE Championship then dropped a shot on the final hole of the day.
Lincicome kicked off her Kingsmill Championship journey with a trio of birdies after starting at the tenth tee before she made consecutive birdies at the third and fourth to begin her back nine. The American stumbled at the sixth, where she recorded her lone bogey of the round, but atoned for her mistake with a birdie at the seventh which kept her within touching distance of Miyazato.
Ko, who has already won two tournaments – the Kia Classic and ANA Inspiration – this year, got off to an encouraging start as she made birdies at the 13th and 15th. It all went downhill from there though as consecutive bogeys at the 17th and 18th were followed by another bogey at the second and a double bogey at the par-four fourth. The world number one did conclude her round with a birdie, which leaves her in a tie for 81st.
Park, who was making her return after taking a month off to recover from a left thumb injury, looked sluggish on Thursday as she made a bogey on her front nine before dropping three further shots on a back nine on which she registered just one birdie. The world number two now sits in a tie for 99th and will need to shift her game to the next level on Friday if she is to make the cut.
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