Hye-Jin Choi of South Korea went 5 under over her last five holes Thursday to card an 8-under-par 64 and take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Women’s Scottish Open in Ayrshire, Scotland.
After starting with four birdies on the back nine of Dundonald Links and taking her lone bogey at the par-5 third hole, Choi eagled the par-5 fifth and rolled in three straight birdies at Nos. 7-9.
It was enough to give her an edge over France’s Celine Boutier, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and Lilia Vu, who fired rounds of 7-under 65.
“That hole I made bogey, I didn’t expect that there was a hazard because I just practiced once this week,” Choi said. “I was pretty upset when I missed and I really try to be calm on next hole. Luckily, I made eagle with long putt and that was the momentum for today.”
Choi, 22, is ranked No. 24 in the world and has won 11 times on the LPGA of Korea Tour but has yet to break through with the LPGA. She has performed well at the majors, including a third-place finish at the U.S. Women’s Open and a T5 at the Women’s PGA Championship.
“Today I had really good shots overall,” Choi said. “But more than my shots, my putter was very good so I had a lot of chances. I just made birdies when I got the chance and I played well with a good attitude on the rest of my holes.”
Boutier and Ko each shot bogey-free rounds with seven birdies apiece, while Vu made eight birdies against just one bogey.
As LPGA players prepare for next week’s Women’s British Open, the fifth and final major of the season, Ko is among those with major talent looking to get back on the podium. Ko won two majors, but none since the 2016 ANA Inspiration.
Ko also tied for second at last year’s Scottish Open.
“I played really solid. I gave myself good looks,” Ko said of her 65. “And I think even when I made mistakes I was like pretty calm about things. And the weather was a lot nicer than I thought it was going to be.”
England’s Georgia Hall and South Korea’s Narin An are tied for fifth at 6-under 66. Australian Minjee Lee highlighted a group of seven players tied at 5-under 67.
Defending champion Ryann O’Toole opened with a 4-under 68. She was tied for 14th with Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, Thailand’s Jasmine Suwannapura and England’s Bronte Law.
The low Scot through one round was Gemma Dryburgh (3-under 69).