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Ko steady in first round of US major

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/06/2017 Angelo Risso

Kiwi golfer Lydia Ko has struck a one-under par 70 in the first round of her Women's PGA Championship tilt at Olympia Fields, but sits four shots off the pace in equal 23rd on the leaderboard.

It was a round of two halves for the world No.3, with two birdies on the front nine in Illinois putting her in a solid early position.

But a sluggish back nine, including no birdies and a bogey on the par-four 14th hole, ruined much of her good work.

She's tied in 23rd place with 15 other golfers, but still has plenty of time to scoot up the leaderboard, starting in Friday's second round (local time).

South Koreans Chella Choi and Amy Yang lead proceedings at five-under par, while Ko's chief rivals Ryu So-Yeon and Ariya Jutanugarn were poles apart.

Ryu produced a solid two-under par on Thursday (local time), while Jutanugarn had a day to forget, shooting a nightmarish six-over par that included six bogeys and a 17th-hole double bogey.

The pair, from South Korea and Thailand respectively, usurped Ko in the women's rankings this month, pushing her down to third.

Ko was on top of the rankings for 85 straight weeks until her mid-June demotion, the third-longest stint as No.1 in LPGA history.

The 20-year-old Korean-born Aucklander has struggled to recapture her best form in 2017, and hasn't won a tour event since July last year.

She finished 25th in last weekend's LPGA tournament in Arkansas.

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