CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) – Fourteen-year-old Lydia Ko shot a 3-under 69 to finish two strokes behind the first-round leaders Friday in the New Zealand Women's Open.
Ko, the world's top-ranked amateur, became the youngest winner of a professional tour event last month in the Women's New South Wales Open in Australia.
England's Kym Larratt, France's Joanna Klatten and New Zealanders Lynette Brooky and Emily Perry, also an amateur, shot 67 to top the leaderboard at Pegasus Golf Club.
Americans Jaclyn Sweeney, Hannah Yun, Danielle Kang, Gerina Piller, Amelia Lewis and Alison Walsh were in the group at 68 in the event sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and Australian Ladies Professional Golf.
Ko, who started on the 10th hole, bogeyed the par-4 third, rallied with birdies at the fifth and sixth, but bogeyed the par-3 eighth when her tee shot went over the back of the green.
“It was a tricky hole for club selection,'' Ko said. “I have to hit a hybrid or wood, so I won't get as much spin on the ball as the other girls.''
The teenager is playing her fourth professional tournament in four weeks.
“I wouldn't have minded 4 under, but I hit it OK off the tee and putted OK,'' she said. “My legs were starting to get sore on the last few holes, but you have to deal with that. I only feel tired after I finish a round.''