Three birdies to start her first round pushed Anna Nordqvist to a 66 – and the top of the Honda LPGA Thailand leaderboard Thursday. At 6 under, the Swede is one shot ahead of Michelle Wie.
Nordqvist and Wie each carded six birdies in all, keeping them ahead of three players at 4 under: Jennifer Johnson, Angela Stanford and Lexi Thompson.
Here are 5 Things to know about the first round at Siam CC in Chonburi, Thailand.
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1. NEEDED LIFT: Nordqvist’s 66 involved bouncing back from a little trouble on the back nine that could have derailed her efforts. Not bad for someone who admits that at one point last season, thoughts of quitting the game crept into her mind.
“I was quite disappointed at the end of last year,” said Nordqvist. “Didn’t feel like I played bad, but never really got any momentum. I was very determined this off season. I worked really hard. Anyone that’s been around me can probably say that. But I just kind of lost the reason why I play golf, the fun of it. I have good people around me now. They been really helping me to get that inspiration back. I put in all this hard work for a reason. It’s been fun.”
At 5 under on the back nine, Nordqvist offset a pair of bogeys by following them with an eagle and getting her lead form back.
“I just tried to stay in there after the two bogeys, because I didn’t feel like I hit bad shots,” said Nordqvist. “I just got flyers out of the rough.”
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2. WIE WIELDS BIG STICK: Wie birdied every par 5 Thursday in staying one shot off the lead. She said she likes how the course sets up for longer hitters such as herself.
“I don’t get to use a lot of drivers during the year,” Wie said. “This is one of the few golf courses that I get to just hit driver all the time. So it’s fun.”
Wie was able to birdie par 5s whether she went for it in two – as she did to start her day on No. 10, hitting a hybrid over the green and getting up and down – or laying up as she did at No. 18 and hitting a wedge in close.
“I think I need to keep taking advantage of the par 5s; that’s really important on this golf course,” Wie said. “I think my wedges just need to be better. I missed two greens with wedges today, which is stupid. That needs to not happen.”
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3. LEXI LURKS: Lexi Thompson’s move to T-3 was keyed by thinking about the strategy on the greens – and the approach shots into them.
“The greens are really tricky out here, the fastest I’ve played on in the three years I’ve been here,” she said. “I had so many putts today I had to play three, four feet out of breaks. Just have to trust your lines and put a good stroke on it. . . . I would say it definitely is a second shot golf course. There are a lot of feed-offs from the greens, so you really have to place it well on the greens.”
Then again, it might be easier to think from the fairway in when you’re comfortable off the tee, as Thompson echoed Wie’s sentiments about the long ball here.
“I like it because I get it hit driver a lot,” Thompson said. “I pretty much hit driver on every hole. I think that’s advantage an for me.”
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4. STANFORD’S ACE: Angela Stanford made a hole-in-one at No. 8, thanks to an 8-iron from 135 yards.
“It’s kind of hard with hole in ones because you do get almost too high and you go to the next tee box and think ‘oh I have to hit another golf shot,’” said Stanford. “It’s hard because it’s like an out-of-body experience. Well for me because I haven’t had many.”
Two, in fact, in the Texan’s 14-year LPGA career – in consecutive years, as the other came in Hawaii.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Suzann Pettersen, with four scattered birdies against a bogey, is among four players T-6 at 3 under. . . . Morgan Pressel also started with three straight birdies but played to 1 over the rest of the way and is among four players T-10 at 2 under. . . . Stacy Lewis, Cristie Kerr, Karrie Webb and Inbee Park are among a pack of 11 players T-14 at 1 under. . . . Lydia Ko and Paula Creamer are among nine players to start the week T-25 with an even-par 72.
– LPGA contributed