A waterlogged start to the LOTTE Championship presented by Hershey also saw a logjam at the top of the leaderboard, as Mi Hyang Lee and Paula Creamer are tied at the top after matching 6-under-par 66s and five golfers are tied for second at 5-under.
There was a 44-minute rain delay Wednesday in Oahu as an aggressive rainstorm blew through, resulting in standing water on the greens at the Ko Olina Golf Club. Play was suspended at 7:04 p.m. HST.
Lee, who was bogey-free during the first round until the ninth, her final hole of the day, started on the back nine and made four birdies. She made three birdies on the front side. She came into the week having missed her last two cuts.
“My shots were the worst. It’s good for the one week off after the ANA (Inspiration),” said Lee. “I (had) good rest, and my body is much better than before. I met with my coach and tried to fix my problem. I have a lot more confidence than before. I played really good today, and I got a lot more confidence from today.”
Prior to the rainstorm, a plethora of golfers were holding the lead at 5-under. Paula Creamer broke out of that pack to come into the clubhouse prior to Lee at 6-under.
Wednesday’s 66 was Creamer’s best round of 2017, and she credits a change in her putting style for her success.
“I played solid. I putted really well. I switched back to conventional-style putting. I’ve been left-hand-low for the last three years,” said Creamer. “I hit the ball really well at the ANA (Inspiration) and Kia (Classic), I just couldn’t make any putts. We talked about how many times I won conventional and how many times have I won left-hand-low and the difference was astronomical.”
Americans Beth Allen and Lizette Salas, South Koreans Su-Yeon Jung and Eun-Hee Ji, and Canadian Alena Sharp are all tied for second at 5-under-par.
Salas, who has the course record at the Ko Olina Golf Club (a 10-under-par 62), made seven birdies Wednesday but off-set her birdie barrage with two bogeys. Allen, meanwhile, made six birdies and a lone bogey – after admitting she hadn’t played the front nine at the Ko Olina Golf Club during her prep-work for the tournament, instead relying on her “great caddy” to point her in the right direction.
Eun-Hee Ji made one bogey Wednesday, while Su-Yeon Jung, who finished fifth here a year ago, had a clean card.
“It’s good to come back to a place I know,” said Jung through a translator. “Although I only played 18 holes this year in practice, as I was playing the golf course memories are coming back to me and I have a lot of good memories of the golf course.”
So Yeon Ryu, the winner of the ANA Inspiration two weeks ago and leader of the Race to the CME Globe, sits two shots back of the lead after an opening-round 4-under-par 68.
Ryu, admitted, however, once she got back on the golf course she wasn’t feeling any extra pressure after her major victory.
“As soon as I got to the golf course I was feeling really comfortable, then I really enjoyed the play today,” said Ryu. “I started to concentrate on my shots, I literally could not think of anything else. I think that one really helped me not to really think about last week’s win, which is (a) really good thing.”
Ryu is paired with No’s 1 and 3 (Ryu is No.2) on the Rolex Rankings – Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn – for the first two rounds of the LOTTE Championship. Jutanugarn fired a 3-under-par 69 Wednesday (making three-straight birdies on the back nine), while Ko had an uncharacteristic start and finished at 1-over.
The defending champion Minjee Lee matched Ko’s opening round, a 1-over-par 73. She sits seven shots back of the co-leaders.
Michelle Wie, a Hawaii native, was battling fatigue Wednesday but still fired a 1-under-par 71.
Round 1 will resume Thursday at 7:15 a.m. local time with just two groups left on the course.
Round 2 is scheduled to begin at 7:00 a.m. with the originally published starting times.