Ariya Jutanugarn and Lydia Ko are looking to regain their winning mojo in Taiwan.
The former Rolex world No. 1s, who have been sliding down the world rankings this summer, put themselves in early position to contend Thursday at the Swinging Skirts Taiwan Championship.
Jutanugarn opened with a 3-under-par 69 in a rain-soaked first round and is tied for second with Sei Young Kim and Megan Khang. They are three shots behind Eun-Hee Ji, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open winner.
Ko is tied for fifth after opening with a 70.
There’s a good field in Taiwan, with six of the top 10 and 14 of the top 20 in the world rankings competing.
Jutanugarn, the Rolex Player of the Year last season, took the No. 1 ranking from Ko in June after winning the Manulife Classic. Since then, however, Jutanugarn has missed the cut or withdrawn in six of nine starts and slipped to No. 7 in the world.
“I feel good because I’m not thinking about the outcome,” Jutanugarn said. “Not expecting anything. Just go out, hit the ball and that’s it.”
Ko, who has slipped to No. 9 in the world, is seeking her 15th LPGA title, her first in 15 months. She contended at both the Indy Women in Tech Championship and Evian Championship last month, finishing second in Indianapolis and tying for third at Evian.
Ko won the Swinging Skirts twice when it was played in San Francisco.