CAMBRIDGE, Ont. – Under spectacular skies and perfect scoring conditions, it was two names familiar with success at Whistle Bear Golf Club who are leading after round one at the Manulife LPGA Classic.
Suzann Pettersen, looking for her first LPGA Tour victory since the 2015 playing of this event, and Mi Hyang Lee, who was runner-up by a stroke a year ago here, shot matching 8-under-par 64s to sit tied at the top.
Pettersen, who lost her yardage book en route to Cambridge and had to start from scratch (and who has a new caddy this week), said she hit perfect numbers Thursday and was helped along by conditions that were ripe for low scores during the morning wave.
“We woke up this morning to perfect conditions. You can fire at pins and get to par fives, which is fun,” she said. “I think it’s the best way to set up a golf course and get low scores. I’m very happy with the opening round I played.”
Lee, meanwhile, got a little revenge on the par-410th after a double bogey on it during last year’s final round. She made par, en route to a bogey-free 64. She said her game and Whistle Bear Golf Club go well together.
“I think it’s a good match to my golf,” she explained. “I think just a great golf course and great condition. A little softer than last year so getting a longer distance. Greens are good and everything else is good.”
Shanshan Feng, who captured the Volvik LPGA Championship two weeks ago, continued her strong play Thursday and fired a 7-under-par 65. She’s tied for third with Hyo Joo Kim and Laura Escallon.
“I’m really happy about what I did today,” said Feng.
Alena Sharp, who grew up less than an hour from Whistle Bear Golf Club, leads the 13 Canadians in the field.
Sharp, who has a plethora of family out supporting her this week, started with a bogey on her first hole of the day but bounced back quickly with an eagle two holes later to get to red figures. She finished with a 6-under-par 66, and is just two shots back of the lead.
“It was steady all day,” said Sharp. “Just made a lot of key putts today and that kept me going. I made a lot of six- to 10-footers, which is what I’ve been working on so it’s nice to see the results come early in the tournament.”
Fellow Canadian Brittany Marchand was given a special exemption into this week’s event and got off to a blistering start as well, shooting a 5-under-par 67, the lowest she’s ever shot on the LPGA Tour.
“It’s pretty cool,” Marchand said of her finish Thursday. “I played really solid other than a couple mistakes here and there. I’m pretty happy with how I played. I had quite a bit of family and friends that came out to watch, even for the 7:30 a.m. tee-time so that was great.”
Brooke Henderson had an up-and-down day, especially on the greens, and finished at 1-under after curling in a birdie on the par-5 9th, her final hole of the day.
“Always helps to finish off the round that way, to get it back under par. I hit a lot of really great shots and the putts just didn't drop today,” she stated. “Hopefully I can switch things around tomorrow and everything will be good.”
Emily Pedersen and Jodi Shadoff joined Sharp at 6-under-par on the day, while Lexi Thompson, who returned to action after a couple of weeks off, joined Marchand at 5-under, despite Thompson making a double bogey on the par-4 10th.
Angel Yin, Lee Lopez, and In Gee Chun – who has three runner-up finishes this season already – were also at 5-under, along with Ariya Jutanugarn, who has a chance to take over the No.1 spot on the Rolex Rankings this week.