Thailand native Ariya Jutanugarn went bogey-free on Thursday at the Dana Open in Sylvania, Ohio, carding a 6-under 65 to sit one back of the lead through 18 holes. The major champion shot out of the gate, making birdie on her first and third holes, and grabbed one more birdie on the par-3, 8th hole to turn in 31. She made back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12 to move to 5-under and recorded one final birdie on the par-5, 17th hole to post at 6-under overall. The 65 is her third-lowest round of the 2023 LPGA Tour season – Jutanugarn has shot 63 once and 64 twice this year – and it's her lowest first-round score since she carded a 4-under 68 on day one of the HSBC Women's World Championship. While she was proud of her day-one effort, the 27-year-old didn't feel like she really did anything too special, crediting her iron play as the reason for her low score.
"I would say to me it's nothing really happened at all today," said Jutanugarn. "I have really good first hole. I hit 6-iron, 9-iron, and have like ten feet to the hole and make the putt. So that kind of gave me like the feeling like have more confidence and feel like I just have to have good (commitment) and keep doing what I'm doing. I would say my iron is work out pretty good today. I hit pretty solid out there. I still miss some tee shot, but I can get back to the green."
The former Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings No. 1 has had an up-and-down year thus far. In her 12 starts ahead of this week in Sylvania, Ohio, Jutanugarn has missed four cuts, but she's recorded four top-15 finishes, one of which is a runner-up that came last month at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. After a rough week at the U.S. Women's Open, where she missed the cut with scores of 76-78, Jutanugarn wasn't coming into this week with many expectations, and though Thursday was a good day, the LPGA Tour veteran still feels like she has plenty to work on.
"Before this week, I only have like one practice round and then pro-am on Wednesday," said Jutanugarn. "No (expectation) at all, because like the way I played last week I feel I have so much thing to work on. I hope it's going to get better when I keep working on that. And today when you have no expectation, it shows you like that the way to play golf.
"It's so hard, especially (because) we only think about the outcome. We want to play well. We want the scores to be low. We want to finish top 10. It's just like test you like how you going to be patient with it and how you going to be even more not thinking about the outcome."