KAPOLEI, Hawaii – Top-ranked Shanshan Feng birdied three of her last five holes Wednesday to take the lead halfway through a windy first round of the Lotte Championship.
The Chinese star finished at 5-under 67 at Ko Olina Golf Club. She is the first golfer from China — female or male — to reach No. 1 in the world rankings. She insists she “gets more excited” in the wind, which should make Ko Olina an ideal site for her this week.
“A lot of people would be like worrying, thinking `Oh, my God, it’s so windy,” Feng said. “I wake up and I’m like, `Yeah, it’s windy.’ That’s why in this kind of situation I still stay patient on the course and still stay with my routine.”
Brooke Henderson, Haeji Kang and rookie Martina Edberg are a shot back in second.
Henderson, a 20-year-old in search of her sixth victory, fired a bogey-free 68. She is ranked 14th, while the pair she shares second with are a bit farther back.
Kang, from South Korea, stands at No. 295. Edberg, from Sweden, is ranked 850th in her first LPGA start. She was a two-time Big West Conference champion during her college career at Cal State Fullerton.
Henderson and fellow Canadians Alena Sharp, Anne-Catherine Tanguay, Brittany Marchand and Maude-Aimee Leblanc wore green and gold ribbons in memory of those killed in the Saskatchewan bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.
Sharp is part of a six-way tie at 69, with third-ranked Inbee Park, qualifier Julieta Granada, Mo Martin, Lizette Salas — who lost a playoff here in 2013 — and 2018 Kia Classic winner Eun-Hee Ji.
Defending champion Cristie Kerr shot 71 and called the conditions “an average wind for here.” She played with Hawaii’s Michelle Wie, the 2014 Lotte champ. Wie double-bogeyed her 15th hole to finish at even par.
“I feel like back in the day I was really used to the wind here because I played in it every week,” Wie said about one of her home courses growing up. “Now that I’m living on the mainland and come back I get a little surprised by it.”
Pernilla Lindberg shot 70 in her first start since beating Park in an eight-hole playoff in the year’s first major.
The $2 million LPGA tournament ends Saturday.