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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Jessica Korda shot a 6-under 66 in high wind Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, the tour’s first full-field event of the season and first official event in Boca Raton in more than 30 years.
Korda birdied her final two holes, finishing with a 25-foot putt on the par-4 ninth at Boca Rio Golf Club. The 26-year-old Florida player had eight birdies – converting on all four par-5 holes – and two bogeys.
From Bradenton, the five-time LPGA Tour winner is staying at home this week.
“It’s beautiful to be able to drive to a tournament,” Korda said. “Doesn’t happen that often, at least in my own car. So yeah, it’s been really nice. And I’m staying at home this week, which is even nicer.
“It’s kind of weird actually staying at home because I don’t really know what to do. It’s not like a hotel room where everything is like everything is in its space and you only bring a certain amount of things. All of a sudden I have all these options. I don’t really know what to do with that right now, but I’m still trying to prepare the way that I would in the hotel.”
Play was suspended because of darkness with 12 players unable to finish the round. Heavy rain delayed play for nearly 40 minutes late in the afternoon.
Tour rookies Yui Kawamoto and Patty Tavatanakit were two strokes back with Sei Young Kim.
“I’ve been prepping for a moment like this, so I’m very happy with it,” Kawamoto said. “I feel comfortable that I was able to play like this. I feel like I was able to prove that I can play here. My goal is to play four days.”
Jessica Korda takes the early lead at the inaugural @GainbridgeLPGA with her opening round 6-under 66 👏
Play was suspended because of darkness after heavy rain delayed play late in the afternoon. pic.twitter.com/XB6zzP5Sok
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) January 24, 2020
Tavatanakit won three times last year on the Symetra Tour.
“I’ve been waiting to come out here for three months, since the start of the offseason, which was kind of stressful,” Tavatanakit said. “I was a little intimidated by the idea of the LPGA Tour and being out here, the transition from the Symetra Tour and three rounds to just a different environment, everyone takes it seriously out here. After I cut out those thoughts and focused on what I have to do, it has been working pretty well.”
Carlota Ciganda, Xiyu Lin and Lindsey Weaver shot 69.
Hometown players Jaye Marie Green and Morgan Pressel struggled in the first official event in Boca Raton since the 1989 Oldsmobile LPGA Classic at Stonebridge. Green shot 73, and Pressel failed to make a birdie in a 75.
“The wind is definitely strong and there’s a lot of trees out here, so what you feel on the tee box is completely different than what’s going on up there,” Green said. “It’s kind of tough to commit to what’s really going on.”
Playing alongside Pressel, Lexi Thompson and Gaby Lopez also got off to slow starts. Thompson had an eagle, a birdie and four bogeys in a 73.
Lopez, the Mexican player coming off a playoff victory Monday morning in the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, had two double bogeys in a 78.
Pressel’s sister, Madison, withdrew before the round because of illness. Dana Finkelstein got the spot in the field and was 2 under with two holes to play.