Miami - Japan's Nasa Hataoka put herself in position for a
$1 million LPGA season bonus but settled for second to American Amy Olson after
Thursday's opening round of the LPGA Tour Championship.
Olson, whose best showing in five career LPGA campaigns was
a runner-up finish at this year's Evian Championship in France, fired a
bogey-free career low nine-under-par 63 at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples,
Florida, to seize the 18-hole lead.
"It's just fun to be playing well," Olson said.
"It's always a good feeling. I had a lot like perfect numbers in today.
Rolled the ball really well. I was just seeing the line, reading the putts
really well, and hitting it where I wanted."
Teen sensation Hataoka, who won the Northwest Arkansas
Championshiop in June and the Japan Classic earlier this month, fired a
bogey-free 64 to share second with American Brittany Lincicome.
But in doing so, the 19-year-old Asian star jumped from
fourth to first in the projected CME Globe bonus race standings, pushing ahead
of world number one Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, who opened seven off the
Ariya has clinched LPGA Player of the Year and money titles
and is a runaway leader for the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she
could take the bonus, she would be the first woman to sweep every major
season-ending LPGA award.
Olson birdied the par-5 opening hole, ran off four birdies
in a row to close the front nine and four more in a row from the par-5 14th
through the par-5 17th.
Lincicome, who began her round with five birdies in a row,
closed with a bogey or she would have matched Olson for the lead.
"I didn't really even think about it until maybe like
the fifth one in a row," Lincicome said. "I was like, Oh, yeah, we're
doing something great this week."
Hataoka birdied the par-5 sixth, closed the front and back
nines with back-to-back birdies and added three birdies in a row at the par-4
11th, par-3 12th and par-4 13th holes.
American Lexi Thompson was fourth on 65 with Spaniard
Carlota Ciganda another stroke adrift.
Ariya stumbled with back-to-back bogeys at the third and
fourth holes and stumbled with another on the closing hole to fall seven shots
Leading scores after Thursday's opening round of the LPGA Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida (USA unless noted, par 72):
63 - Amy Olson
64 - Brittany Lincicome, Nasa Hataoka (JPN)
65 - Lexi Thompson
66 - Carlota Ciganda (ESP)
67 - Lindy Duncan, Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras (THA)
68 - Liu Yu (CHN)
69 - Kim Sei-young (KOR), Ashleigh Buhai (RSA), Ryu So-yeon (KOR), Marina Alex, Lydia Ko (NZL), Park Hee-young (KOR), Danielle Kang, Nelly Korda, Jaye Marie Green, Charlie Hull (ENG), Jessica Korda, Lizette Salas, Cristie Kerr, Chella Choi (KOR), Bronte Law (ENG), Ariya Jutanugarn (THA)