Sep 1, 2017: For most of Thursday, it looked as if In Gee Chun’s leading score of 6-under par at the Cambia Portland Classic presented by JTBC would be leapfrogged by someone in the afternoon wave, namely Lexi Thompson, who was 5-under par through 12 holes.
But it was not to be, with Thompson making a double bogey on the par-4 17th to finish at 4-under par on the day, two shots back of Chun, who is looking for her first win of the season after four runner-up results, and six top-3 finishes in 2017.
“Coming here everyone said the course is really good. I agreed. I like big trees. It’s amazing,” said Chun, who is making her debut at the Cambia Portland Classic. “Greens are very consistent and really good condition. I was confident on the course.”
India’s Aditi Ashok shot four-under-par 68 to tie at T8. Aditi had a good start with a birdie in the first hole and added one more at fifth along with a bogie in the ninth hole in the front nine. She continued her form in the back nine and three more bogies as 10th, 13th and 15th holes respectively to close with four under-par score.
Chun had just one bogey on Thursday against seven birdies. Despite not having a victory on the season, she still sits sixth on the Race to the CME Globe.
Chun is one shot ahead of six golfers at 5-under, including Nasa Hataoka, Nicole Broch Larsen, Cindy LaCrosse (who shot her best round of the year Thursday), Moriya Jutanugarn, Cheyenne Woods (who also shot her best round of 2017), and two-time defending champion Brooke Henderson.
Henderson, who is coming down off a busy high of playing in front of hometown crowds last week at the CP Women’s Open in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, didn’t show any sign of exhaustion. She was 4-under through nine holes, and added two birdies (against just one bogey) on her second nine to get to 5-under on the day.
“I think it just suits my eye. I love tree-lined courses… and it’s so green everywhere you look. The grass is very lush, and I love that,” said Henderson when asked why her game works well at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.
“Just playing here I have so many incredible memories from two years ago, and last year, and I just try to feed of the energy and adrenaline that I felt over the past couple years.”
Henderson admitted 5-under was ‘great’ start, but knows there are a handful of golfers within striking distance of Chun’s lead.
Jutanugarn, who leads the LPGA Tour in birdies-made in 2017 with 312, added to that total on Thursday. She said she still felt there were some ‘good chances’ out there but was ‘pretty happy’ with her opening-round result. She said Columbia Edgewater Country Club fits her game, so it was no surprise to see such a fine result after Thursday’s opening round.
“It’s always very nice to come back on this golf course,” she said. “It’s just like a different style. Just more like old-style and different than other… but it’s really nice.”
Larsen notched her best finish of 2017 a week ago in Ottawa, a tie for third, and kept that momentum going this week in Portland.
“It’s a new week so everything can happen. But yeah, definitely (that result) gave me a big boost, that top-3 finish, especially a birdie-birdie finish,” said Larsen. “I had my coach here in the practice days. He’s leaving tomorrow. It’s been really nice having him here and kind of continue the work we started in my two off weeks. I’m just trying to do my things and try (to) work hard.”
10 golfers were a shot further back at 4-under including Thompson, looking for her second win of the year.
Thompson chipped in on the par-4 18th for birdie after making a double bogey on her penultimate hole of the day. Still, she sits just two shots back of the lead held by Chun.
18 golfers sit at 3-under par through Thursday’s first round, including Solheim Cuppers Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Karine Icher, Mel Reid, and Gerina Piller.
Stacy Lewis is one of 19 golfers at 2-under par.
Lewis announced prior to the start of the tournament that she would donate 100 percent of her winnings from this week’s event to the flood relief efforts in Houston.
“I just saw different people doing things with birdies and all that. I just, I don’t know, wanted to do something that was going to make a difference. Just said, why not?” said Lewis. “There are so many bad things going on there. It’s not just about this week. It’s going to be going on for a long time. The more help we can get down there the better.”
Mo Martin withdrew prior to the start of her round due to injury.