Ariya Jutanugarn looks eager to answer Sung Hyun Park’s challenge.
Four days after Park won the Indy Women in Tech Championship to take the Rolex world No. 1 ranking, Jutanugarn quickly moved into position to try to take it back at the CP Women’s Open.
Lydia Ko also made a quick start as she aims to win the Canadian Open for a fourth time.
And Brooke Henderson excited Saskatchewan as she set up her bid to become the first Canadian to win the event since Jocelyne Bourassa claimed the inaugural title 45 years ago.
The first round didn’t lack for storylines Thursday with some big names going low at Wascana Country Club.
“There are a bunch of really low numbers out there,” Ko said. “When I looked at the leaderboard on my front nine, it seemed like everyone was pretty much getting off to a good start.”
Jutanugarn opened with an 8-under-par 64, equaling Nasa Hataoka and Mariajo Uribe for the first round lead. They’re one shot ahead of Angel Yin and Nanna Koerstz Madsen.
Ko joined Henderson, Jessica Korda and a pack of other players shooting 66.
Ko was 15 when she won her first Canadian Women’s Open, becoming the youngest player to win an LPGA title. She won it again at 16 and 18.
“The Canadians have taken me in as a Canadian almost,” Ko said. “I always love coming back to Canada. Obviously, every win is special, but the first, there is something a little bit more special to it.”
Henderson is Canada’s favorite golf daughter, drawing huge galleries for her late afternoon start.
“The crowds just seemed to hang with me all day, even though it's late in the day right now.” Henderson said. “Even walking up 18, there were tons of people.
“Really amazing crowds, so I'm looking forward to the weekend.”
Jutanugarn saw her second run at world No. 1 end after three weeks, with Park wrestling it away in Indianapolis last weekend. Jutanugarn can get it right back again this week and set up a potential duel with Park for the LPGA’s biggest prizes down the season’s home stretch.
Park won the CP Women’s Open last year, with Jutanugarn winning it two years ago.