INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — Nasa Hataoka of Japan fired a 7-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea.
Danielle Kang and Charley Hull were two shots back on Thursday on a chilly, windy day at the Sky 72 Ocean Course.
Sung Hyun Park, the LPGA’s top-ranked player, was among a handful of players at three shots back.
Park could have been closer but took a double-bogey 5 on the par-3 17th.
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Kang said she tried to make the most of the challenging conditions.
“I actually really like tough conditions,” Kang said. “I’m ready to play, and whatever happens, happens. I actually like the wind.”
Hataoka also enjoyed the blustery weather.
She had eight birdies through 16 holes to reach 8-under, but then dropped a shot at 17.
The 19-year-old Hataoka was ranked in triple digits just a year ago but has climbed to No. 14 in the LPGA rankings — the top Japanese.
She won her first LPGA title earlier this year at the NW Arkansas Championship in only her second season on the tour, and is aiming to represent Japan in the Tokyo Olympics.
American Michelle Wie turned 29 on Thursday but failed to celebrate — she had a disappointing 76.
The KEB Hana Bank tournament is the first in five weeks of play across South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China.
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