BELMONT, Mich. — Ayaka Furue of Japan shot a bogey-free 5-under 67 on Friday at Blythefield Country Club to take a one-stroke lead into the weekend in the Meijer LPGA Classic.
Part of a five-way tie for the first-round lead, the 5-foot Furue had an 11-under 133 total in the final event before the major KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week at Baltusrol in New Jersey.
Hyo Joo Kim (65), Leona Maguire (65), Carlota Ciganda (66) and Amy Yang (67) were a stroke back. Defending champion Jennifer Kupcho (69) was 9 under along with Manon De Roey (65), Aditi Ashok (67), Minjee Lee (67), Emily Kristine Pedersen (68) and Lindsey Weaver-Wright (69).
“Everybody is going low,” Maguire said. “You feel like you have to go low, you have to be making birdies to even just stay in position, let alone move up. Just more of the same over the weekend.”
The shortest player on the LPGA Tour, the 23-year-old Furue won the Women’s Scottish Open last summer. She lost to Pajaree Anannarukarn last month in the final of the LPGA Match-Play and has five top-four finishes this season.
“I just want to keep playing my golf,” Furue said.
Kupcho had six birdies and three bogeys a day after a bogey-free 66.
“Wasn’t hitting the ball as well as I was yesterday, so kind of just battled my way through the round,” Kupcho said.
Ciganda eagled the par-5 fourth and eighth holes. She holed a “pitch shot” from 50 yards on No. 4 and made a 15-foot putt on No. 8
“Overall, very happy,” Ciganda said. “Playing good and making putts and excited for the weekend.”
Ashleigh Buhai, the ShopRite LPGA Classic winner last week in New Jersey, was 8 under after her second 68.
“Huge amount of momentum, obviously, but also a lot of fatigue,” Buhai said. “I took Monday and Tuesday off just to try and recover a little bit.”
Brooke Henderson, the Canadian who won the event in 2017 and 2019, birdied the par-5 18th for a 73 to make the cut at 2 under.
Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko missed the cut. Thompson, the 2015 winner, followed her opening 69 with a 74, and Ko had her second straight 72.