Golf

Park Inbee makes sizzling start to Sentosa treble bid

World No. 2 Park Inbee hit a brilliant eight-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead after yesterday's opening round of the HSBC Women's World Championship in Singapore, as the LPGA returned to Asia for the first time in 18 months.

The 2016 Olympic gold medallist, bidding for her third win at the Sentosa Golf Club after 2015 and 2017 triumphs, snared eight birdies - four each on the front and back nines - to top the leaderboard ahead of fellow South Korean Park Hee-young (65).

"I had a great day today," said the former world No. 1. "It was a great putting day, I hit the ball really well and made plenty of fairways and greens."

The 32-year-old hit a sublime approach shot at the third hole to commence her birdie blitz.

She would have been even further in front of the field had she not just missed a relatively straightforward putt at the last.

Hee-young's mix of an eagle, six birdies and a single bogey gave her a two-shot advantage over five players who carded 67s for a share of third at a tournament sometimes dubbed "Asia's Major".

The quintet are Caroline Masson and Sophia Popov of Germany, Kim Hyo-joo and Ryu So-yeon of South Korea and China's Lin Xiyu.

New Zealand's former world No. 1 Lydia Ko signed for a 69, while world No. 1 Ko Jin-young is two shots behind.

Park Sung-hyun, who won the tournament the last time it was held in 2019, continued her poor run of form with the worst round of the day, a six-over 78.

She is guaranteed to play at the weekend, however, as the 69-player event has no cut.

Singapore's Amanda Tan is two shots ahead of her on 76 and tied for 66th place.

Inbee said it was hotter out on the course than in previous years at Sentosa.

"I'm just looking to get through the next three days and get out of here," she said, after a sweltering day where the mercury went as high as 34 deg C.

She credited her husband Nam Gi-hyeob, who is her caddy this week, with her success in the first round.

"I think I'm going to give him 10 and probably 10 for the rest of the week because I'm really thankful that he's doing this for me and in this heat." - REUTERS

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