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Ariya Jutanugarn, Amy Yang share lead at LPGA Thailand

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The Sports Xchange
Amy Yang of Korea. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Amy Yang of Korea. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Ariya Jutanugarn enjoyed a bogey-free opening round on Thursday and carded a 6-under-par 66 to seize a share of the lead at the LPGA Thailand in Pattaya, Thailand.

Playing in her home country, the second-ranked Thai joined Amy Yang of Taiwan atop the leaderboard. Jutanugarn recorded six birdies while Yang had seven against one bogey at Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

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"You know, it feels great," Jutanguarn said of her performance. "I feel really grateful to be here. All the fans, they try to support all the Thai golfers here."

Jutanugarn, who is the reigning Rolex Player of the Year, is looking to become the first countrywoman to win the LPGA Thailand. She already has the best finish for a Thai player when she finished second at the event in 2013.

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Yang, whose lone blemish on Thursday was a bogey on the 10th hole, was also pleased with both her reception and performance.

"I love coming to Thailand to play," Yang said. "I was hitting it pretty good out there. In the middle, during the round, you know, I had some time I couldn't control the ball, but I still had a lot of good shots. Gave myself a lot of good opportunities out there. Just enjoying so much out here."

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Yang, who capped her round with back-to-back birdies, is vying for her first win since emerging victorious in this event in 2015 -- a stretch of 44 events. Yang has 17 top-10 finishes during that stretch.

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American Ryann O'Toole, Sei Young Kim, Minjee Lee and Shanshan Feng each reside one stroke behind the leaders.

All told, 21 players are within three shots of the lead -- including defending champion Lexi Thompson, who sits at 4-under par. Thompson's last win came last year in Thailand, although she has eight top-10 finishes in that time.

Top-ranked Lydia Ko (2-under) recorded five birdies against three bogeys while former No. 1 Inbee Park shot an even par in her first action since winning the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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"I'm feeling really good," said Park, who won in Pattaya in 2013. "I don't feel much of the injury anymore. I feel like I'm really free of injury.

"Ball-striking was really good today. Just around the greens wasn't as sharp as I wanted. Obviously that's just going to happen. Just got to be patient."



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