It was a banner day for American Elizabeth Szokol on Thursday at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. The 28-year-old carded a new career-low round, an 8-under, 64 at the Tanjong Course at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore that was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5, 5th and seven birdies. Starting her day on the back nine, Szokol got off to a slow start, making bogey on No. 10, but righted the ship a few holes later, birdieing the 13th, 16th and 18th holes to turn in 34. She really caught fire on the front nine, her back nine, opening with a birdie on the first and going eagle-birdie on the 5th and 6th. Parring the 7th, Szokol wrapped up her round with birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 to post at -8 and hold a three-shot, first-round lead, just the 18-hole second of her career and first since the 2022 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational.
“That was really the main thing (in the offseason), was just coming out here for the first few events and feeling good and feeling healthy and feeling pretty good so that was probably the thing I worked on most. And then my driver just didn't cooperate that well last year. Really working on that off the tee and pretty pleased with that work so far,” said Szokol, who battled a back injury last season and is playing on a medical extension this week. “I'm really happy about the start. Great way to start the event. I'm just happy I was hitting my irons better than last week. I felt like I was shaking off a little rust last week from the offseason so very pleased with the start.”
U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica winner Yuka Saso sits alone in second after firing a 5-under, 67 on day one in Singapore. Saso started strong, making four birdies in her first eight holes, including back-to-back birdies on Nos. 5 and 6. The back nine was a bit more of a grind with Saso parring holes 10 through 15, but she finally broke through again on the par-5, 16th, making another birdie before closing with two pars to go bogey-free on Thursday. “I played pretty consistent with second shots. I was able to put myself in a good position and give myself a good chance for birdie,” said Saso, who hit 15 of 18 greens. “And really enjoyed playing with Lilia (Vu) and Patty (Tavatanakit). So, yeah, it was a good day.”
A logjam of players sit in a tie for third at -4 after carding opening 68s at the Tanjong Course. Five of the six are major champions, the most notable of whom is Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 2 Nelly Korda, who is continuing the good form she’s had since beginning the season at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. Korda went bogey-free in round one, making birdies on Nos. 5, 6, 8 and 17. Five players are in a tie for ninth at -3, including 2022 AIG Women’s Open champion Ashleigh Buhai. Defending champion Jin Young Ko opened with an even-par, 72 on Thursday and is currently tied for 36th.