Davies, Reto, Thompson among five sharing LPGA lead

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Carlota Ciganda hits her tee shot on the 7th hole during the first round of the Meijer LPGA Classic at Blythefield Country Club on Friday in Belmont, Michigan.  AFP PHOTO

Carlota Ciganda hits her tee shot on the 7th hole during the first round of the Meijer LPGA Classic at Blythefield Country Club on Friday in Belmont, Michigan. AFP PHOTO

CHICAGO: Britain’s Laura Davies, a four-time major champion who hasn’t won an LPGA event since 2001, fired a six-under-par 65 on Thursday (Friday in Manila) to share the lead at the Meijier LPGA Classic.

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The 52-year-old Englishwoman was level with South Africa’s Paula Reto, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, South Korean Kim Sei-Young and defending champion Lexi Thompson of the United States at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“It suits my game,” Davies said of the 6,414-yard layout. “It’s open enough but you’ve still got to hit fairways because these trees are pretty big and if you get behind them — I tried to chip out once, luckily got up-and-down for a par. But other than that, yeah, it’s a good course for me.”

Davies, who hit driver on 17 of 18 holes, opened with a birdie at the par-5 first and added another at the par-3 fourth. She sandwiched birdies at eight and 10 around her only bogey of the day, birdied the par-3 12th and 14th and made another at 17.

Her last of 20 LPGA titles came 15 years ago at the Rochester Invitational.

Reto made an 18-foot putt on the ninth hole, her last of the day, to join the lead pack. She began off the back nine with her only bogey, ran off four birdies in a row starting at the par-3 12th and birdied the 17th and third holes as well.

“I saw the leaderboard after my first nine and I just sort of looked at it and I was like, ‘OK I’m just going to keep playing.’ From there on in I just kept playing my game. I wasn’t sure what really was leading. I just sort of stick to my own game.”

Fourth-ranked Thompson hit only six of 13 fairways but reached all 18 greens in regulation and needed only 31 putts. She started by parring through the back nine, eagled the first, ran off three birdies in a row ending at the par-5 fifth and birdied the par-5 eighth as well.

“It’s definitely playing a little bit soft so the greens are more receptive than last year,” Thompson said. “The course was playing tough at one point because it got pretty windy out there as well.”

Kim birdied her last two holes to join the co-leaders while Ciganda had a bogey-free round, starting on the back nine and closing with birdies at the par-3 fourth and sixth holes and the par-5 eighth.

“I played very solid. My putting was good,” Ciganda said. “I’m very happy with my round.”

Sharing sixth on 66 were England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Americans Amelia Lewis and Jaclyn Jansen, Canada’s Alena Sharp and South Koreans, Baek Q, Chun In-Gee and Ryu So-Yeon.

AFP

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