TOLEDO, Ohio — Danielle Kang went greater than six months with out competing and regarded as if she had by no means been away, taking part in bogey-free at Inverness Membership for a 6-under 66 and a one-shot lead within the LPGA Drive On Championship.
The LPGA Tour’s much-awaited return from the COVID-19 pandemic introduced a direct sense of its new world. Kang had no thought the place she stood after a closing birde.
“There are no leaderboards on the golf course,” Kang mentioned.
Inverness, the place Paul Azinger beat Greg Norman in a playoff on the 1993 PGA Championship, is internet hosting the Solheim Cup subsequent 12 months and supplied to stage the primary occasion again for the LPGA Tour because the Girls’s Australian Open on Feb. 16. The LPGA Tour stays in northeast Ohio subsequent week earlier than heading to Scotland.
Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England additionally performed bogey-free for a 67. Celine Boutier of France and Lee-Anne Tempo of South Africa additionally had been at 5 below till each made bogey on the closing gap. They settled for a 68.
The foremost world tour in golf attracted 130 gamers from some 30 nations, although it was lacking the main stars from powerhouse South Korea. Jin Younger Ko, the No. 1 participant on the earth, and Sung Hyun Park have stayed dwelling and are taking part in on the Korean LPGA. Neither is anticipated to journey to Scotland for the Girls’s British Open in three weeks.
The lone Korean competitor among the many high 10 — a rarity given the nation’s energy in girls’s golf — was Hee Younger Park at 70.
Kang, a former Girls’s PGA champion, paid explicit consideration to the pace of the greens at Inverness, making six birdies and numerous key par putts to maintain her spherical going.
“Even if you happen to hit shot, it isn’t a straightforward putt,” Kang mentioned. “I virtually three-putted from 9 ft. Positively had a very good angle, and it was actually enjoyable to be again.”
The LPGA Tour isn’t permitting spectators, although that wasn’t an issue for Kang. She was extra involved about her etiquette with two different gamers, completely different from a extra informal angle at dwelling. Kang performed solely twice initially of the 12 months within the Florida occasions, together with a third-place end Jan. 23 on the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio.
The sector attracted 4 of the highest 10 from the world rating, and Kang (No. 4) and Minjee Lee of Australia (No. 8) had been the one ones to interrupt par. Lee shot 69.
Nelly Korda, the highest-ranked participant at No. 2 on the earth, opened with two birdies in three holes and closed with one other birdie. It was the half in between that value her, and he or she had a 76. Lexi Thompson, who has slipped to No. 9, opened with a 73.
For many of them, it was merely good to be again.
Lydia Ko made a protracted birdie to shut out her spherical of 69, becoming a member of Lee and Amy Olson.
“I noticed a number of the women and I used to be like, ‘Man, it is good to not see you thru a digital app or on social media,” Ko mentioned.