Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum fired a 6-under 66 to take the first-round lead at the sixth annual Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex. In search of her first official LPGA Tour victory, Phatlum carded seven birdies and one bogey to take a 1-stroke lead over South Korean Amy Yang.
Playing for the first-time in Guadalajara, Mexico, Phatlum looked to feel right at home as she recorded three consecutive birdies on the opening three holes to quickly get to 3-under. The putter remained hot for Phatlum, who only needed 25 putts on Thursday, as she went on to notch two additional birdies at the par-4 seventh and par-5 ninth to make the turn at 5-under.
“Well, today, my putting was very good,” said Phatlum. “I had a complete game today.”
Looking to improve on a season-best tie for second at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, the impressive play continued for Phatlum with birdies at the par-4 11th and par-3 13th before recording her first and only bogey of the day at the par-4 14th to drop to 6-under-par.
Phatlum would go on to par the remaining four holes and finish the day at 6-under-par to find herself in a familiar position atop the leaderboard. While Phatlum is no stranger to leading an LPGA Tour event, she admitted this week was a bit different with only 36-players in the field.
“Well, it’s not quite like this lead because there are not many players this week,” said Phatlum. “I just want to have fun on the course this week.”
Nipping on Phatlum’s heels is Amy Yang who only needed 29 putts on a round that included six birdies and one bogey. Yang quickly moved into the red numbers on Thursday with a birdie at the par-4 second before jumping to 4-under-par with three consecutive birdies beginning at the par-4 fourth.
“I think I did everything so well today, especially putter,” said Yang. “I felt really good over the ball every time.”
The solid play continued for Yang on the back-nine as she birdied the par-4 11th to move to 5-under for the day. Yang faltered with a bogey at the par-4 15th but quickly recovered to close her round in style with a birdie at the par-5 18th.
Beaming with confidence from her first career LPGA Tour victory at the LPGA KEB Hanabank Championship, Yang admitted she could enjoy playing a bit more now that she has a win under belt.
“It really helped,” said Yang. “I had some chance to win before. When I didn't achieve it, I was wondering if I can do it or not. But since the first win, I give a lot of confidence, and now I'm enjoying it more.”
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park remains in contention to notch her seventh LPGA Tour victory this season as she fired a 4-under 68 to trail Phatlum by 2-strokes.
“My ball striking was really good today,” said Park. “I hardly missed any shots out there today, I didn’t miss any fairways and probably missed only a couple greens but I was getting some muddy balls there and just didn’t know where it was going to fly. I left a couple of putts out there today and I had a lot of opportunities. My ball striking was really good today though so hopefully I can keep it going the next three days.”
Topics: Lorena Ochoa Invitational