WELLINGTON: Hometown favorite Lydia Ko finished five off the pace at the LPGA’s New Zealand Women’s Open Thursday as England’s Jodie Ewart Shadoff and Brooke Henderson of Canada made the most of calm conditions.
Ewart Shadoff and Henderson both capitalized on early starts to finish seven-under-par on 65, setting a joint course record at Auckland’s Windross Farm.
Ko, 20, the world number eight, faced more blustery conditions late in the day and carded 70 for a share of 20th.
She said her putting let her down, but the defending champion and former world No.1 remained optimistic about winning the first LPGA event staged in New Zealand.
“There is a lot of golf to play, I have to stay positive and have fun,” she said.
“It’s just fun playing at home and hear the fans clapping for me whether I make a bogey or birdie. It was fun to be in that rhythm of things… I just need to keep committing to my lines and distances.”
The $1.3 million tournament is being held at the new Windross Farm course south of Auckland.
It was previously co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour, with Ko winning in 2016, 2015 and 2013.