The 2018 HUGEL-Air Premia LA Open champion, Moriya Jutanugarn missed the cut defending her title in 2019. On Wednesday at Wilshire Country Club, she signed a colorful first-round scorecard featuring 10 birdies, five pars, two bogeys and a double bogey for a 6-under par 65 and the clubhouse lead out of the morning wave.
“I will say, it was a pretty fun day. It was really like a rollercoaster, starting with par, double-[bogey], par, bogey-bogey on the first five holes,” said Jutanugarn, who hit 14 greens in regulation. “I started to make some putts and had a lot more chances because I hit it a lot closer. When I started to make more putts, then it made me have a fun day.”
A key factor to Jutanugarn’s strong performance was her second nine, or the front nine at Wilshire. She managed a bogey-free, 6-under par 29 to become the fifth player to break 30 for nine holes on the LPGA Tour in 2021.
“To be honest, I enjoy playing today and I had no idea how many birdies I made or what I shot,” said Jutanugarn. “I didn’t realize until I signed the scorecard that I shot 29 on my second nine. It was pretty fun.
“I always enjoy coming back here. I love L.A. and the weather is nice, golf course is nice and of course, Wilshire is one of the really challenging golf courses. You just have to put yourself into good positions to play and sometimes just to make a two-putt. I just happened to make a little bit more putts today.”
One person who did know what Jutanugarn was up to was playing partner Austin Ernst, who carded a 5-under 66 and kept track of Jutanugarn’s scorecard. The third member of the group, Jin Young Ko, shot a 67 to round out a combined effort of 15-under from the trio.
“She [Moriya] played really well coming in,” Ernst said. “I think it’s nice when you have birdies in the group because you’re seeing a lot of putts go in. Not only for yourself, but you’re seeing other people make a lot of putts. We definitely had a very good group. Hopefully we do the same thing tomorrow and see a lot of birdies.”