Ryu, Shon share LPGA lead with sizzling 64s

So Yeon Ryu of South Korea hits her second shot on the 18th hole

Chicago (AFP) – Sixth-ranked Ryu So Yeon of South Korea fired a bogey-free eight-under par 64 Thursday to share the early first-round lead with American Kelly Shon at the LPGA Meijer Classic.

Ryu, whose lone top-five showing of the season was a share of fourth at Los Angeles, seeks her sixth LPGA title and first since winning last June’s Northwest Arkansas Championship, which lifted her to world number one.

“This season, I’m not really fully satisfied with it, so hopefully this week it’s going to start playing really well and hopefully I can win this tournament,” Ryu said.

After starting with back-to-back birdies, Ryu ran off three in a row at the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth holes and added another at the par-5 11th before another set of back-to-back birdies at the par-5 16th at par-4 17th.

It was her low round of the season and her lowest since a 61 during her Arkansas triumph last year.

“I’ve been working really hard with my coach and we’ve been really focused on speed control on the greens,” Ryu said. “It finally paid off today.”

South Korean-born Shon, seeking her first LPGA crown, has missed the cut in six of her 11 prior tour starts this season, with her best result a share of 42nd in Los Angeles.

“I’m doing so many things so well that it’s so hard to believe I’m getting what I’m getting,” Shon said of her season’s struggles. “Tough as it is, I’ve been still keeping my head down, just working as hard as I could doing the same things, and so yeah, to be honest, I have been kind of been waiting for a round like this.”

Shon, who began on the back nine, birdied the par-3 12th before taking her lone bogey at 13, which she answered with a birdie at 16.

Shon began the front side, her second nine, with a birdie at the par-5 first, added two more at the par-3 fourth and par-5 fifth, then closed the round with birdies sandwiched around an eagle at the eighth to match Ryu for the clubhouse lead with half the field still to finish.

France’s Celine Herbin and American Lizette Salas shared third on 66 with South African Lee-Anne Pace and Germans Caroline Masson and Sophia Popov another stroke adrift.

Canada’s Brooke Henderson, the defending champion, was in a pack on 69.