PRATTVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Jennifer Johnson has pledged half of her winnings this week to charity. She is off to a great start in the Navistar LPGA Classic.
Johnson shot a career-best, 7-under-par 65 Thursday to take the first-round lead over teenager Lexi Thompson at the Robert Trent Jones Trail’s Capitol Hill complex.
Johnson, a third-year pro with just $84,809 in career earnings, has pledged to donate half of her winnings this week to the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides services to severely injured soldiers.
“That’s some extra motivation,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, I can keep it up and give a bunch of money to those guys.”
Johnson was 6 under on the back nine, including an eagle on the par-4, 389-yard 15th. She holed out a 6-iron from about 150 yards.
“I was trying to land it on the front and I thought it wasn’t going to be enough,” Johnson said. “I was yelling at it to get up, and then it just kind of curved right in the hole, and then I was happy.”
The 16-year-old Thompson, no stranger to success at the Navistar LPGA Classic, is one shot back after a 6-under 66.
Becky Morgan and Alison Walshe are tied for third at 65. There is a seven-way tie for fifth at 4 under that includes Yani Tseng, the world’s No. 1 player.
Thompson first played the Navistar tournament as a 14-year-old amateur in 2009. She was tied for the lead after two rounds before finishing 27th. Last year, as a professional, she tied for 16th.
“I just love coming to this tournament,” Thompson said. “It’s one I look forward to every year.”
On Thursday, she hit all 18 greens in regulation. Thompson finished with seven birdies, including four between Nos. 11-15. She bogeyed No. 13.
“I just focused on one shot and thought about tempo,” Thompson said. “If I just do that for the next three days, hopefully it will all go well.”
Morgan recovered from a shaky start to reach 5-under 67 and tie Walshe, who carded her best round of the season.
Morgan was 2 over after five holes but was below par after nine. She birdied four of the final five holes, including the last three, and drained an 18-foot putt on No. 17.
“I gave myself a good talking to and turned things around,” said Morgan, who is from Wales. “There were a few choice words in there. Sometimes, I need to give myself a good kick in the bum to turn things around.”