Xiyu Lin of China eagled the par-5 17th hole to vault into the lead after one round of The Ascendant LPGA on Thursday in The Colony, Texas.
Lin shot a 6-under-par 65 at Old American Golf Club. That put her one shot better than Lizette Salas and Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul at 5-under 66.
After picking up five birdies and one bogey through her first 16 holes, Lin had her highlight at No. 17, where she said was surprised that she could reach the green in two shots because length off the tee is a relatively new aspect of her game.
“So 17 became definitely reachable for me, so I hit a really good drive and then had a perfect yardages and just really good second shot and then made the putt,” Lin said. “It was only like 10-footer, so, yeah, it was good.”
The 26-year-old has had two top-10 finishes already this month. She tied for seventh at the Dana Open before placing second at the Kroger Queen City Championship the next week. She is still on the hunt for her first LPGA win.
Salas set the early pace with her bogey-free 66. She made all five of her birdies over her first 11 holes before parring the rest of the way.
“We actually came out with a really solid par on the first hole. I think that really gave me some confidence with my short game,” Salas said. “I just made it boring reading the putts really well and, again, going off the momentum from last week and applying that to this week.”
Thitikul started on the back nine and made a push with three straight birdies at Nos. 15-17. She got her sixth birdie of the day to drop at the par-4 eighth, — tying her with Lin. But she finished with a bogey at the par-4 ninth.
The 19-year-old is coming off a win at last week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, her second victory of the year. She could move from fourth to first in Race to the CME Globe points with a strong finish this week.
“The course is pretty different than last week,” Thitikul said. “It’s a big change. Pretty firm and, you know, like every hole it’s run-out and the green, it’s tricky as well. But, yeah, pretty good today. … Get myself a lot of chance to make a birdie.”
Lexi Thompson, Maddie Szeryk of Canada, Charley Hull of England and Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand were tied for fourth at 4-under 67.
Defending champion Jin Young Ko previously withdrew from the event as she rests a wrist injury.
–Field Level Media