Ewart Shadoff gets 1st round lead at Women’s Australian Open

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ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Jodi Ewart Shadoff shot a 7-under 66 to take a three-stroke lead over defending champion Nelly Korda in the first round of the Women’s Australian Open on Thursday.

Ewart Shadoff had seven birdies at Royal Adelaide and held a one-stroke lead over Inbee Park and U.S. Open champion Jeongeun Lee6, who had five birdies in a seven-hole stretch in the middle of her round.

Marina Alex, Amy Olson and Jillian Hollis (all 68) were tied for fourth.

Ewart Shadoff has 20 top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour without a victory.

“I feel ready now,” the Englishwoman said. “I feel like every part of my game is up to the challenge. It’s hopefully going to be a good year and hopefully get that win.”

In the 2019 tournament at The Grange Golf Club in Adelaide, Ewart Shadoff shot a first-round 65 and finished tied for eighth. She also competed in the 2017 Women’s Australian Open at Royal Adelaide, where she tied for 24th.

“I really love the golf courses here. I played well last year. I played well here when it was here a couple of years ago too,” said Ewart Shadoff, a three-time member of Team Europe at the Solheim Cup. “I think just go out there tomorrow and try and do the same thing.”

Park opened her first round by holing out from 113 yards with a gap wedge on No. 1 for an eagle. The 19-time LPGA Tour champion, who is playing in her first Women’s Australian Open since missing the cut in 2012, added five more birdies and two bogeys.

“I didn’t see it actually going in, but it was right on line. I thought it was going to be pretty close. But everybody was screaming so I was like, yeah, it must be in,” Park said. “That was my second eagle of the year. So, I had an eagle last week as well in Australia. So, two for Australia.”

Korda was optimistic after her opening round.

“I drove the ball really well, kind of didn’t take advantage of all my opportunities, but it’s just the first day so hopefully I can just build from here on,” Korda said.

Five-time champion Karrie Webb, whose lead-up to the tournament was hampered by a virus, shot 74. British veteran Laura Davies had a 79.

Due to the virus outbreak in China, the Women’s Australian Open will be the last LPGA tournament for a month after the cancellation of three scheduled events in Thailand, Singapore and China.

Pernilla Lindberg was pleased with her first-round 70 as she prepared for a much bigger challenge.

“I didn’t even feel like I had my best out there,” said the Swede, who is playing in her ninth Women’s Australian Open. “But all my misses were in the right spot as I could get up and downs and kept giving myself chances. The birdies I made were all kind of tap-ins, so it was kind of low stress.”

In two weeks, Lindberg will become the first female professional in the 101-year history of the New Zealand Open. Lindberg and her husband Daniel Taylor, who works as her caddie, were married atop a mountain near Queenstown, New Zealand, on Jan. 31, 2019, and the Open coincided with their planned first-anniversary trip.

“It’s going to be an incredible challenge,” said Lindberg, who will be paired with All Blacks rugby star Beauden Barrett in the event, a pro-am like the tournament at Pebble Beach. “I’m not going to set any kind of goals for myself, but I’m really going to soak in the week.”

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