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Low-key start for Ko at Swinging Skirts

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/04/2016

Lydia Ko sits five shots off the lead in her bid for a third straight victory at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in San Francisco.

The Kiwi world No.1 carded an opening four-under 68, starting on the back nine and playing alongside In Gee Chun (South Korea) and Stacy Lewis (US).

Ko bogeyed her second hole of the day at the par four 11th, but came back strongly to record four birdies before the turn.

Although she added a second bogey at the par four first hole, Ko birdied the third and sixth for a solid finish to share fifth place with three others.

Ko, who turns 19 on Sunday, was happy enough with her effort in scrambling around the challenging Lake Merced course.

"The big key around this course is to hit a lot of fairways - there were some holes where I needed to be on the fairway, but I wasn't there," she said.

"With the greens firming up, it's tough when you're hitting out of the rough. I made quite a few good up and downs, and made a few birdies along the way, so that really helped."

South Korean So Yeon Ryu leads the field after shooting a flawless nine-under 63, two shots ahead of Japan's Haru Nomura.

Xi Yu Lin of China and Dutch golfer Christel Boeljon are tied for third after both recording five-under 67.

Ko said she was looking to play smarter in round two, hitting a few more fairways and greens for an easier par instead of scrambling to recover.

"It's a tough course but if you make bogeys, there's also a chance to recover and make birdies.

"That's the fair thing about it, everything balances out."

It was at the Swinging Skirts two years ago that Ko claimed her first title as an LPGA Tour professional.

In seven starts on the tour so far this year, she has picked up two wins, including a second major title, finished runner-up twice and tied for third.

If Ko does end up top of the leaderboard this week, she will become just the 11th player in LPGA history to win the same event in three consecutive years.

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