Jessica Korda and Michelle Wie moved into early position Thursday in China to make runs at claiming their third LPGA victories this season.
Korda moved to the top of the leaderboard in the first round with a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 at the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course on Hainan Island despite a mid-round scare when she appeared to hurt her right wrist jamming a shot out of the rough at the 13th hole. She shook off the pain and finished out for a one-shot lead over six players, including Wie, China’s Shanshan Feng and Brittany Lang.
World No. 3 Lydia Ko, the highest ranked player in the field, opened with a 69. Cristie Kerr opened with a 68.
If Korda or Wie win, they’ll equal Stacy Lewis for most LPGA victories this season.
Korda won twice early this year, claiming the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic in late January and the Airbus LPGA in May, but she’s cooled off since with one top-10 finish in her last 10 tour starts. She recently began working with David Leadbetter to make her swing more compact.
“Getting a little bit of experience, as well, because he’s been through it so many times with different players, and he’s seen different techniques,” Korda said in a television interview after her round. “It’s good to kind of feed off him a little bit and pick his brain.”
Korda, who struggled with nagging shoulder and wrist injuries last year, looked like she hurt herself hitting a an iron shot out of the rough at the 13th hole Thursday. She walked to the green shaking and massaging her right wrist. She looked fine hitting driver off the 14th tee and seemed fine the rest of the way.
“A little unexpected shock, but I’m good,” Korda said. “Just a little ice and some rest.”
Wie, who missed almost three months with a finger injury, followed up her tie for fifth last week at the KEB-HanaBank Championship with another strong round. She was bogey free. She won the Lotte Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open earlier this year.
“It’s great to shoot 67 in my first round and see what I can do coming in,” Wie said.