After 18 holes in Sylvania, Ohio, Hye-Jin Choi, Ruoning Yin and Carlota Ciganda carded 6-under 65s to take the first-round lead at the Dana Open presented by Marathon. Ciganda, a two-time LPGA Tour champion whose wins came in 2014, opened with two birdies in her first three holes and added four more after the turn on Nos. 10, 11, 13 and 18. It’s Ciganda’s best first-round score of 2022, as she makes her fifth appearance at the Dana Open.
“I really like this place and I started very solid. I hit a lot of greens, great shots on 1, 2, 3, and I made like 15-footer on 2 and a 10-footer on 3 for birdie. Then I just told myself to keep giving chances, hit greens. I think it's key on this golf course,” said Ciganda, who has already earned three top-five finishes this season. “I feel very comfortable out there. I like the place. Reminds me of home in the summer, the weather, the trees, the design of the course. I really enjoy playing here and it's been a great day.”
This is the fourth time in Ciganda’s career that she’s slept on the 18-hole lead/co-lead, and the first time since the 2018 Amundi Evian Championship. Her two 2022 Tour rookie co-leaders, Yin and Choi, both hold the first-round lead/co-lead for the first time in their careers in individual events (Choi held the 2022 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational lead with playing partner Narin An). This is Yin’s first start since the team event in Midland, as she has been battling a wrist injury and didn’t travel for the European swing. After making two Epson Tour appearances, where she finished T30 (Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship) and T13 (French Lick Charity Classic), Yin took the time while rehabbing to improve her putting and her short game, practice she put to use at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
“I think this course fits me pretty well because my normal ball flight is kind of fade, and, yeah, I think it's fits me,” said Yin. “Today I read the greens pretty good. I think for my putt I just don't have much expectations, and just tried to hit a good putt.”
Choi is coming off a hot week at the CP Women’s Open, where she recorded a career-best 62 in the second round and notched her ninth top-10 finish of 2022. She carried that momentum into Thursday, making three birdies on the first four holes, and remaining bogey-free while adding three more under-par scores at No. 8, 10 and 13.
“Even though I didn’t win (at the CP Women’s Open), I feel like I’m gaining more experience and developing more skills,” said Choi. “Hopefully, I can use the experience I gained last week this week.”
Eight players sit in a tie for fourth at -5. Among them are major champions like Lydia Ko, a two-time Dana Open champion, and Lexi Thompson, who has earned two runner-up performances in Sylvania since 2017. Sponsor exemption Aline Krauter is also in that group in contention, as she makes just her sixth start in an LPGA Tour event and first as a professional, along with 2021 European Solheim Cup competitors Leona Maguire and Emily Kristine Pedersen.
“I'm just super grateful to have this opportunity in the first place,” said Krauter. “I'm just going to take it day by day and see how it goes.”
Krauter led amongst the sponsor invites, as Natasha Andrea Oon sits in a tie for 37th at -1 and amateur Audrey Ryu at T142 and +9. Defending champion Nasa Hataoka is tied for 29th after a 2-under 69.