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Ko well off the pace in California

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/03/2017

Defending champion Lydia Ko has made a lacklustre start to her title defence at latest LPGA Tour event in California.

World No.1 Ko shares 81st place at the Kia Classic Carlsbad after carding a two-over 74, leaving her eight shots off the pace and in danger of missing the cut.

The 19-year-old struggled with her approach play while her putting was also askew as she carded five bogeys, including three on the back nine, which she played first.

Going to the turn at two-over, Ko dropped two further shots and appeared set for a horror opening before birdies on her last two holes of the day.

It was a disappointing effort from the Kiwi, who has shown signs of a return to form in recent tournaments.

She has recorded top-10 finishes at her last three LPGA events, including a bogey-free eighth-placed effort at last week's event in Phoenix.

Her world No.1 ranking is under threat this week from Thai rival Ariya Jutanugarn, who also struggled on the opening day and is level with Ko.

The lead is shared by three golfers - Americans Christie Kerr and Mo Martin, along with Korean world No.3 In Gee Chun.

They are two strokes clear of five relatively unheralded golfers on four-under.

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