KUALA LUMPUR: World No.1 Lydia Ko struggled to tied 30th on the first day of the Sime Darby LPGA on Thursday as her blip in form continued despite axing her caddie.
The 19-year-old, using a Malaysian bagman after ditching Australian Jason Hamilton earlier this month, shot even-par 71 in Kuala Lumpur to lie eight shots off the lead.
The New Zealander double-bogeyed the par-four second hole and never fully recovered, carding another bogey against three birdies.
“I made a really clumsy double on the second. I hit a great drive and then I just leaked a shot in the water,” said Ko.
“The rest of the day I was just trying to fight back and put myself in position under par,” she added.
Ko’s brilliant early career has faltered in recent months and she finished 51st in her last tournament, the Korea LPGA Championship in Incheon.
At the top of the leaderboard, two-time LPGA Tour winner Amy Yang was two shots clear after shooting eight birdies for an eight-under-par 63.
America’s Marina Alex was second with 65 ahead of a host of players a shot further back, including 2014 winner Feng Shanshan and former Major winner Michelle Wie.
“I don’t know why, but I do enjoy Southeast Asia. I’d rather play in this (hot) weather than cold weather,” said Yang.
“The last four holes, I hit it really solid, close to the pin. Like all day, my putting was good.”
Both of Yang’s titles have come in Asia, at the LPGA KEB-Hana Bank Championship in her homeland in 2013 and the Honda LPGA Thailand in 2015.