Suzuki, Udea atop Toto Japan Classic leaderboard

Suzuki, Udea atop Toto Japan Classic leaderboard

SHIGA, Japan — Japanese players Ai Suzuki and Momoko Ueda each shot 7-under 65s on Thursday to sit atop the first-round leaderboard at the LPGA Tour’s Toto Japan Classic.

Two other Japanese player were a shot behind: Ayaka Furue and Sakura Koiwai. The tournament is being played at the Seta Golf Club in Shiga, Japan.

Furue is the defending champion and Suzuki won the event in 2019.

Miyu Yamashita, another Japanese player, was two strokes behind after a 67.

Suzuki said she has been struggling with her swing and hired a new swing coach, which did not work out.

“Then I made a decision to play without a coach anymore, and it just started to go well,” she said. “I feel like I could have gone to 10-under today.”

Ueda said she has also made recent adjustments.

“I changed the shaft for my driver and also my putter,” Ueda said. “I normally do not change my putter very often, but it works very well this week.”

Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand, the LPGA’s new No. 1-ranked player, shot a 71. She is only the second player under the age to 20 to reach No. 1. She turns 20 next year on Feb. 20.

Lydia Ko of New Zealand reached No. 1 in 2015 when she was only 17 year old.

“Being No. 1 in pressure,” Thitikul said earlier in the week. “I don’t know how long I’m going to be No. 1 in the world — but at least it’s just a ranking.”

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