Thursday's golf: Ko's LPGA streak ends as SKoreans pack Busan leaderboard

Associated Press

Busan, South Korea — Jin Young Ko missed extending an LPGA Tour scoring record in the rain while her South Korean compatriots packed the first round leaderboard of the BMW Ladies Championship on Thursday.

Ko had 14 straight rounds in the 60s, tying her with Annika Sorenstam (2005) and So Yeon Ryu (2015-17) for the most in tour history, going into the round. But Ko finished with a 1-under 71 after a birdie on the 18th hole at LPGA International Busan.

Jin Young Ko of South Korea watches her shot on the ninth hole during the first round of the BMW Ladies Championship at LPGA International Busan in Busan, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.

“I was able to tie with Annika and So Yeon because I worked hard every moment and I gave it my best every hole and every shot,” Ko said. “This in itself is really meaningful, and really 14 consecutive rounds in the 60s is not easy. I worked hard a lot, and also you need a bit of luck as well.”

Ko said she’s looking forward to better weather for the next three rounds in Busan.

“It was raining. It was cold. So it was a tough round," she said. “And when you play in Korea, there’s that extra bit in you that wants to do a little bit better, and there’s that extra bit of pressure as well."

Ko was seven strokes behind leader Na Rin An, who shot 64.

In Gee Chun and Ju Young Pak had 65s and were tied for second.

American Danielle Kang, whose father was born in Busan, shot 66 and was in a group tied for fourth.

Defending champion Ha Na Jang, who won the Busan tournament when it was last played in 2019, shot 74.

The Ladies Championship is the only Asia event in the so-called fall season. The LPGA started out with a four-tournament Asia swing until events in Shanghai, Japan, and Taiwan were either canceled or removed from the schedule.

There are two tournaments left before the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Florida.

PGA Tour

Japanese golfer Hiroshi Iwata shot a 7-under 63 Thursday to take the first-round lead at the PGA Tour’s Zozo Championship.

Iwata had a one-stroke lead over Joaquin Niemann and 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama on the par-70, 7,041-yard Narashino Country Club course.

Defending champion Patrick Cantlay is taking the rest of the year off and is not playing in what has turned out to be the only PGA tournament on the Asia swing. Only three of the top 20 in the world are playing in Chiba.

Tokyo Olympics gold medal winner Xander Schauffele shot 70, as did Rickie Fowler, who is playing on a sponsor’s exemption for the second straight year.

British Open champion Collin Morikawa shot 71.

Tiger Woods won his 82nd career PGA Tour title at Narashino in 2019.

European Tour

Santa Posa, Spain — Jeff Winther shot an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Mallorca Open on Thursday.

The Danish player had 10 birdies and two bogeys at the Santa Ponsa course.

“I didn’t have any expectations going into this week, got my family here so we are just trying to enjoy it,” Winther said. “I took the whole day off yesterday, didn’t touch a club. Warmed up on the range where we can only hit 5-irons. Apparently that’s the way to do it.”

Two players were tied for second — Niklas Lemke of Sweden and Bryce Easton of South Africa, who carded 63s for the lowest rounds of their European Tour careers.

Five players were another shot back in a tie for fourth place, including Spaniards Jorge Campillo and Álvaro Quirós.

The Mallorca Open is the third and final event of the European Tour's Spain swing.