Suzann Pettersen bolted to the top of a Scandinavian-favored leaderboard in Friday’s start of the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship in Incheon, South Korea, with her lowest round in five years in an LPGA event.
With a course-record 9-under-par 63 at Sky 72 Golf Club’s Ocean Course, Norway’s Pettersen moved a shot ahead of Sweden’s Karin Sjodin with Ai Miyazato, Azahara Munoz, So Yeon Ryu, Hyun-Hee Moon and Ha-Neul Kim all three back.
World No. 1 Yani Tseng, the defending champ, opened strongly with a 67. She is seeking her first title in seven months. Lexi Thompson, Angela Stanford and Mina Harigae were the top Americans on the board with 68s.
It was Pettersen’s lowest score in an LPGA event since she posted a 63 in the third round of the Honda LPGA Thailand in 2007. It was also Pettersen’s second course record in two weeks. She shot a 64 in the second round of the LPGA Sime Darby in Malaysia last week on her way to tying for 19th place.
“I feel like I have some low rounds in me now,” said Pettersen. “I was 7 under last week, 9 under this week. It's just nice, and some of your feel kind of equals the score you put on the scorecard. It feels like this year hasn't been a great year, but I feel like I've been playing well, even though my scores haven't shown as good as I wanted to.”
Pettersen, who opened the year No. 2 in the Rolex World rankings, is seeking her ninth LPGA title, her first since winning the Safeway Classic 14 months ago. She has slid to No. 9 in the world.
“You can't stress in this game,” said Pettersen. “You will go through ups and downs, and I wouldn't say I've been on a down, either, because I've been healthy. I've been feeling well and able to put in all the time and effort I feel is needed for my game. Maybe this can be a great turnaround.”