America’s defending champion Nelly Korda tied with two-time 2019 tournament winner Hur Mi-Jung at six-under-par 66 to lead the LPGA Taiwan Championship by one shot on Thursday.
Korda claimed her maiden LPGA Tour victory at this event last year to join her elder sister Jessica as a winner on the circuit, extending a family sporting resume which also boasts a Grand Slam tennis title via father Petr.
“It’s definitely so special,” said the 21-year-old of being the defending champion, after having three bogeys coupled with seven birdies and an eagle to top the scoreboard.
“I’m recognised by so many people now and everyone is really rooting for me… Hopefully I can get it done but there’s still a lot of golf to be played.”
South Korea’s Hur managed to stay bogey-free despite hitting only 6 of 14 fairways on the rainy and windy first day at the Miramar Golf County Club in New Taipei City.
Fresh from her victory at the LPGA Volunteers of America Classic in Texas early this month, Hur won her first title of the year at the Ladies Scottish Open in August to snap a five-year LPGA win drought.
Australia’s Minjee Lee, runner-up to Korda last year in Taiwan, finished third at five-under-par with four birdies following the opening round.
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This year was the second time with no players from China at the tournament, as political tensions between Taipei and Beijing spilt over into the sporting arena.
Relations have plummeted since President Tsai Ing-wen took office three years ago, as her government refuses to acknowledge that Taiwan is part of “one China.”