Lydia Ko hold the first-round lead at the LPGA's Sime Darby. Photo by Jose Mendez/EPA
Lydia Ko recorded her best opening round of the year on Thursday with a 7-under-par 64 to claim a one-shot lead at the LPGA Tour's Sime Darby in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
A former world No. 1, Ko collected seven birdies during her bogey-free round on the par 71, 6,246-yard course at the TPC Kuala Lumpur.
Ko, who is seeking her first win of the season, holds a one-stroke advantage over second-year member Su Oh. The 20-year-old Ko also enjoys a two-shot edge over defending champion Shanshan Feng, Swedish rookie Madelene Sagstrom and last week's winner Eun Hee-Ji.
"It's always nice to make birdies on par 3's," said Ko, who made birdies on three par-3 holes. "Birdies on any holes, you take it. I feel like 17 is kind of a lucky one. It was a really solid day for me, so I'll take my 64."
Ko is coming off a second-place finish at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship.
Oh recorded two separate stretches of three straight birdies to finish with nine in total.
"I didn't have very high expectations," the 21-year-old Oh said. "I just went out there and played like cliche one shot at a time, kind of thing. I was off really early, and it was really dark when I got here. So, I wasn't sure if I could get a full warm up in, and just got enough time to have a full warm up. Just happy to get done before the storm hits."
Shanshan has finished as runner-up twice at this tournament along with wins in 2014 and 2016.
"It would be great if I can do it," Shanshan said about winning another title in Malaysia. "I'm really enjoying coming back every year. We always love the people here. I feel really relaxed."
Sagstrom's first-round 66 is tied for the second-lowest round of her career; she has twice shot a 65 this season, and shot a 66 in the third round of the 2017 KPMG Women's PGA Championship
"I think I put a little bit too much pressure on myself throughout the year, and right now I'm at the point where I've achieved all my goals for the season," said the 24-year-old Sagstrom, who is teeing it up for the last time before November's season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
"I'm kind of relaxed and I can just go out and play my game and have fun and I'm trusting my swing. Just playing out here, it's amazing."
She is tied with Feng, who lamented a few missed opportunities on Thursday.
"I left myself so many birdie chances," said Feng, who carded a bogey-free round on Thursday. "I actually missed a couple out there. I think that's a good thing to do. I think that means maybe I can still make more on the weekend. I think it's a good start."
Ji, a three-time LPGA Tour winner, made four straight birdies near the start of her round and finished with seven.