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Hometown favourite and defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn struggles in the opening round at Siam Country Club Pattaya

Ariya Jutanugarn

The Honda LPGA Thailand 2022 Championship got off to a blistering start with three players tied for the lead on 63. Australian Su Oh, Nasa Hataoka of Japan and German Esther Henseleit all shot nine-under-par rounds, which gave them a one-stroke cushion over China’s Xiyu Lin, on an opening day when the big names generally struggled on Siam Country Club Pattaya’s Old Course.

Esther Henseleit

Su Oh, the 25-year-old South Korea-born Australian golfer, was bogey-free in her 63 which had five birdies on the back nine and four on the front. After her round she said: “That’s a great way to start a tournament – it was really nice. I don’t think I’ve ever shot 9-under before. But I’m very happy with how I played. I chipped in today as well, which was nice. I putted really well today and I think my ball striking was actually better last week, but I had like 10 less putts this week – like today. I had 32 putts last week, but had  23 putts today. With obviously a chip-in it is maybe like 24, 25 putts, but still like eight shots better. And I didn’t hit it that much closer. I think I hit it closer last week, but just didn’t hole anything. So I’m glad I holed some putts today. It feels really nice.”

Su Oh

Twenty-three year-old Nasa Hataoka, a five-time LPGA Tour winner, said she too enjoyed her opening round and could not have asked for anything better. “I hit 14 fairways and 18 greens, so that’s a solid round,” she said. “I have not shot that good a round – not so much – only a couple of times. I really focused on one shot at a time, so my course management was good. I believe that’s the reason behind today’s performance.”

Esther Henseleit, the 23-year-old who resides in Hamburg, Germany and has two wins on the Ladies European Tour, said of her first day 63: “I just didn’t make any big mistakes I think. My irons were good. On my first nine I had many tap-in birdies – on the back nine I holed two longer putts. It was just stress-free golf and it was definitely nice to get a few birdies. I really like the (Siam Country Club) course. I think it’s definitely a low scoring course. You can be aggressive and there are just many holes you can attack with either your drive or par-5 with the second. I think it’s a really fun golf course.”

Xiyu Lin, the 26-year-old player from China who has two wins on the Ladies European Tour, said: “I’m very happy with the bogey-free first round because that is always a bonus. It’s a good sign of solid play and I think if I remember correctly, I also hit 18 greens, which is another really big accomplishment for me. Yeah, I mean, I know this course is definitely very doable and has lots of opportunities, and then today the conditions are pretty good. It didn’t get really, really hot. And I had a good pairing – playing with Yu Liu, I haven’t played with her for a long time. I also know on this course, you can go low and you probably have to go low in this tournament, so I just keep telling myself, you know, when I have an opportunity I need to go for it. The par-5s are especially attackable and so you have to be really aggressive on it. I’m pretty happy with how today turned out.”

Canada’s world number 11 Brooke Henderson was tied with Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Alison Lee, Lindsey Weaver-Wright, Celine Boutier and Jennifer Kupcho on seven-under-par for fifth place, while three-time Honda LPGA Thailand winner  Amy Yang, world number five Danielle Kang, Jeongeun Lee, Carlota Ciganda, Yu Liu and Lizette Salas were joint 11th place, one stroke back on six-under.

World number four, Australian  Min Lee, Hinako Shibuno, Lucy Li, Perrine Delacour, A Lim Kim and Stacy Lewis were a shot further adrift on five-under-par. Thailand’s defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn battled to a two-over 74, struggling first with direction off the tee-box and then her short-game. But the former world number one can still make a comeback if she can pull her game together in time.

This is the 15th edition of the Honda LPGA Thailand and it carries prize money of US$1.6 million, of which the winner will receive $240,000. There are 70 of the world’s leading women’s players and invitees in the field, who will also be eager to win the all-new Honda HR-V e:HEV variant for a hole in-one on the 16th hole at Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course, Pattaya Chonburi province. The tournament ends on Sunday and is featuring an audience of only a limited number of invited guests with no tickets sold on site. To ensure a safe environment, the Honda LPGA Thailand 2022 is adhering to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Department of Disease Control. Golf fans can tune in to live broadcasts and streaming of the event on the Official Broadcast Host PPTV HD 36 and their digital platforms: www.pptvhd36.com, Facebook, YouTube and the PPTVHD36 application over the four days of the tournament.

For more information and updates on the Honda LPGA Thailand 2022, visit www.hondalpgathailand.com or follow on Facebook  at www.facebook.com/lpgaThailand or Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hondalpgathailand.