Here come the South Koreans.
In what started as a sluggish year for the women’s golf powerhouse, South Korea is the story early at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open. The nation's best have put themselves in early position to make a run at winning their third consecutive LPGA event.
So Yeon Ryu shot a course-record 9-under-par 63 Thursday to take the lead in the first round at the London Hunt and Country Club in Ontario. She birdied the final hole to move one shot ahead of fellow South Korean Na Yeon Choi.
Inbee Park, winner of last week’s Wegmans LPGA Championship, sits just three shots back. Park had the lone LPGA title among South Koreans this year going into August. Mirim Lee won two weeks ago at the Meijer Classic and Park followed up in Rochester.
Ryu, who won the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open, is seeking her third LPGA title, her first in two years. She hit every fairway and 16 greens in regulation Thursday. She has nine top-10 finishes this year.
Choi is trying to get back in the highly competitive mix at the top of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She’s a seven-time LPGA winner who claimed the U.S. Women’s Open in 2012 and was No. 2 in the world for much of the 2012 and ’13 seasons before falling off her winning form. She’s seeking her first LPGA title since winning the CME Group Titleholders 20 months ago. She has slid to No. 20 in the world.
Choi made her run with five consecutive birdies after making the turn on her first nine. She chipped in twice.
Park is going for a Canadian sweep. She won the Manulife Financial in Ontario earlier this year. Park can regain the No. 1 world ranking she lost to Stacy Lewis 12 weeks ago with a win or second-place finish, depending on how Lewis finishes this week. Lewis opened with a 71 Thursday.
Park said winning another major, her fifth overall and fourth in the last two seasons, freed her up this week.
“I probably feel a little bit less pressure,” Park told reporters afterward. “Yeah, you're not really searching for the trophy, like, so badly anymore.”
Park moves to No. 1 if she wins and Lewis finishes in a four-way tie for second or worse. Park also can move to No. 1 if she finishes second and Lewis finishes 47th or worse.
Lydia Ko, 17, seeking to win this event for the third consecutive year, opened with a 70. She also has a chance to move to No. 1, but only with a victory.