Fast starts are not required, but highly recommended at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer.
Eleven of the last 15 winners on the Bay Course at Seaview, a Dolce Hotel have fired 67 or better in the first round. Nineteen players fell into that category on Friday in Galloway, N.J., led by 6-under par 65 performances from So Yeon Ryu and Jodi Ewart Shadoff.
“I made a birdie-birdie start, after that it was a bit slow,” said Ryu, making her first start in the ShopRite Classic since 2017. “I did make an eagle on No. 3. To be honest, the eagle putt I think was a little bit too much speed, but I was able to hit the center of the cup. That one really picked me up.”
Ewart Shadoff not only matched Ryu in score, but she also carded an eagle on the par-5 third to reach the mark.
“I hit a really good hybrid from about 200 yards and was about 10 feet away. Yeah, it was nice to get one to drop early. I think that really started [getting] the momentum going for me,” Ewart Shadoff said after her first opening round under par since the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana in July. “Holed a lot of putts today. It was very steady. Got up and down from the back of the green [on No. 9 for birdie]. I had a good one on No. 5, too. Tough pin on that ridge. Then a good closing birdie on the last hole.”
A group of eight players are one shot back of the lead and tied for third at 5-under. That includes Rolex Rankings No. 2 Jin Young Ko, LPGA Hall of Fame member Inbee Park, 10-time LPGA Tour winner Brooke Henderson and Matilda Castren, a Rolex First-Time Winner in 2021 at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship.
“I played this tournament in 2018 when I was a rookie and I did not play good, so I want to play better than 2018,” said Ko, a two-time champion on Tour this year. “This course is not too long, so I have to get a lot of birdies. Even par 5s, you can get hybrid or iron to the green from second shot.
“I had great round today and lot of birdies. But I had two bogeys, so had to stay patient, good attitude.”
For Park, it was her first LPGA Tour start since the AIG Women’s Open in August.
“I took a good couple of weeks off,” Park said. “Played one event in Korea. It was nice to have good rest. Didn’t play a lot of golf the last couple weeks, so I was a little bit worried. But I played really good.”
Defending champion Mel Reid (70) shares 70th and 2019 winner Lexi Thompson (68) is just three shots back in a tie for 21st. Local amateur and tournament sponsor exemption Megan Ganne shot 1-under. A total of 89 players shot even par or better.