Record for Lydia Ko as Matthew opens with 71
Ko, the 17-year-old world No 1, tied Annika Sorenstam’s mark with her 29th consecutive sub-par round – a one-under-par 71 at Mission Hills.
In the first major of the golfing season, Ko got off to a flying start to be two-under after three holes. She then dropped three shots in four holes at the end of her front nine.
The Korean-born Kiwi got it back to level-par with a birdie at the second – her 11th – before hitting her 6-iron tee shot to 18 inches at the 159-yard eighth to move level with Sorenstam in the sub-par stakes.
Ko is a combined 91-under for her run that includes 21 rounds of 70 or better.
Matthew, playing the course the right way round, led on her own after picking up three birdies in a row from the tenth to get to three-under.
The Scottish No 1 then undid some of that good work by taking bogeys at the 16th and 18th but a 71 was still a decent effort, especially in testing conditions. Indeed, when Matthew signed her card she was sitting in joint-fifth and probably wouldn’t be too far off the pace at the end of day one.
Second in this event in 2007, when it was known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the North Berwick woman is hoping to use this week’s event as the springboard for another Solheim Cup assault. Matthew is aiming to be on the European team for an eighth time when the biennial bout takes place in Germany in September.
There was also disappointment late in the day for Charley Hull. The English teenager got to three-under as well to lead with a hole to play only to take a 6 at the ninth – her last. A two-under-par 70 still earned her a share of the clubhouse lead along with Korean Na Yeon Choi and American Austin Ernst.
Lexi Thompson, the defending champion, opened with a 72, one better than last year’s US Open winner, Michelle Wie.
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