Beacon Journal staff report
Ariya Jutanugarn birdied the final four holes for an 8-under 65 and a 1-stroke lead over Brooke Henderson on Thursday in the Reignwood LPGA Classic.
In position to take player of the year lead from idle Lydia Ko with a ninth-place finish or better, Jutanugarn had 10 birdies and two bogeys at Reignwood Pine Valley in the first of six events in the Asian Swing.
“All the players really want to win the award like player of the year,” Jutanugarn said. “I really want to, but right now I think I’m not really worry I’m going to win. I think I just have to be like, ‘Just keep play like this and have fun on the course.”’
The 20-year-old Thai player is No. 2 in the world and leads the LPGA Tour with five victories. Winless entering the season, she won three straight events in May, took the major Women’s British Open in July and the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August. She’s making her first appearance in the event that was canceled last year.
The fourth-ranked Henderson birdied three of the final four holes in a bogey-free round. The 19-year-old Canadian won the major KPMG Women’s PGA in June for the first of her two victories this season. She plans to play all six events in Asia.
Americans Lizette Salas and Jennifer Song shot 68. Australia’s Sarah Jane Smith and South Koreans Amy Yang, Mi Jung Hur and Ilhee Lee shot 69.
Chinese star Shanshan Feng topped the group at 70, holing out from the fairway with a wedge for eagle on the par-5 16th.
South Korea’s Mirim Lee, the 2014 winner, had a 72.