The 18-hole scoring record at the LPGA Tour’s HUGEL AIR-PREMIA LA Open is 7-under 64, a mark set in 2019 by Americans Megan Khang and Annie Park. In Wednesday’s first round of the 2021 tournament, their countrywoman Jessica Korda added her name to that list, carding eight birdies and only one bogey to take a one-stroke lead into the second round.
“I was lucky enough that I was hitting the ball well last week (in Hawaii). I just wasn't making any putts, and so I was kind of just taking that mentality into this week. Like if I can maybe drop some putts I can have a good round,” said Korda. “But out here it's tough. This isn't an easy golf course at all. I was lucky to be able to position myself in the right spots off the tee and take advantage of the short putts that I did have for birdie.”
Korda was not the only player to flirt with the record books on Wednesday. 2018 HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA Open champion Moriya Jutanugarn was 4-over through five holes, but played her final 13 holes at -10, including six consecutive birdies. The comeback 6-under 65 puts the 26-year-old Thai sensation in a tie for second with Tiffany Chan.
“I will say it's pretty fun day today. It's kind of really like a roller coaster. I started with double par, bogey, something like that on the first six holes,” said Jutanugarn. “I started to make some putts and then I had a lot more chance today because I hit it a lot more like closer. When I start to make a little bit more putts, then it's kind of make me having a fun day.”
Chan, a native of Hong Kong who spent two years in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, carded seven birdies, including four straight on holes 5-8, and hit 15 of 18 greens. Chan still considers Wilshire to be her home course, despite living full time in Las Vegas, and said that she felt that inside knowledge played to her advantage.
“My goal was to try not to be too aggressive because it's my home course so I know the course really well,” said Chan. “So I still tried to be a little more conservative.”
Five players are tied for fourth at -5: Americans Dana Finkelstein, Nelly Korda and Austin Ernst; Australia’s Su Oh; and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Jin Young Ko is tied for ninth at -4, while Minjee Lee, who is defending her 2019 LA Open title after the tournament was not conducted in 2020, opened with a 1-under 70 and is tied for 43rd.