Lydia Ko makes solid start in Thailand

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 22:58 21/02/2013
Lydia Ko
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IN THE HUNT: Lydia Ko is tied for 10th after the opening round of the Thailand Open.

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Back-to-back bogeys within sight of the clubhouse undermined Lydia Ko's otherwise impressive start to the $US1.5 million Thailand Open in Chonburi.

In scenes reminiscent of her final round fade out at the Australian Open at Royal Canberra on Sunday, the 15-year-old could not quite sustain her challenge down the stretch at the Siam Country Club yet still fashioned a highly respectable 3-under 69.

Ko was in a tie for fifth at four-under until dropped shots on the par-3 16th and the par-4 17th saw her slide to share of 19th - but in keeping with her determined nature she birdied the last to climb to a 10-way tie for 10th, six shots adrift of tournament frontrunner Stacey Lewis.

The American world No 3 equalled the course record of 63 by finishing with consecutive birdies.

An incredible six-under at the turn, a new benchmark looked a formality for Lewis but a solitary glitch on the 16th derailed her bid. Instead she joined In-Kyung Kim, Ai Miyazato, Stacey Prammanasudh and Suzann Pettersen as joint record holder.

Lewis, who racked up eight birdies and a stunning eagle on the par-4 second, leads Frenchwoman Karine Icherby three strokes.

The quartet of Catriona Matthew, (Scotland), Amy Yang, Inbee Park (South Korea) and American Gerina Piller are a stroke further back.

Although clearly weary after finishing third at the LPGA-season opening Australian Open Ko approached the latest assignment of her burgeoning career enthusiastically and looked on track for a blemish-free round of the par-72 layout until suffering twin setbacks.

The world's leading amateur was two-under the card after nine in a tie for 14th - a solid beginning free of the driving woes that underlined her title bid in the Australian capital.

She parred the first two holes and then picked up strokes on the third and fourth before reeling off five consecutive holes in regulation to make the turn on 34.

Ko also birdied the 12th and 15th holes before a costly loss of concentration.

Paired with talented teenager Lexi Thompson - who turned professional at age 15 - and 29-season pro Juli Inkster, Ko comfortably held her own with the American duo.

Thompson signed for a 1-under 71; Inkster, 52, recorded a 4-over 76 but will play out the tournament because the LPGA-sanctioned event does not have a midway cut.

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Ko also outshone Taiwan's world No 1, Australian Open runner-up and two-time defending champion Yani Tseng, who was languishing at 3-over.

South Korea's Jiyai Shin, who triumphed at Royal Canberra when paired with Ko in the final round, again found herself alongside the Kiwi prodigy at 3-under.

- Fairfax Media

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