Mika Miyazato had five birdies in a six-hole stretch and finished with a 6-under 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Kingsmill Championship.
In tricky conditions on the rain-soaked River Course, the 26-year-old Japanese player closed her opening nine with the birdie run, dropped a stroke on the par-5 third, and rebounded with birdies on the par-4 sixth and eighth holes. She won the 2012 Safeway Classic in Oregon for her lone tour title.
The greens where a lot faster than expected, though they were receptive and the players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways.
“Course conditions is pretty wet, and last two days, so much rain,” Miyazato said. “But I tried to be more aggressive, the golf, so that’s why maybe played very well today.”
Defending champion Minjee Lee and Brittany Lincicome were a stroke back.
“The greens were faster this year than I’ve ever seen them in my life,” Lincicome said. “I think they were faster than any other stop on tour this year, so that was obviously something I had to adjust to because I couldn’t be as aggressive as I wanted to be.”
Lee made her lone bogey on the closing par-4 18th. The 19-year-old Australian won last year at Kingsmill in a Monday finish and added her second tour title last month in Hawaii.
“I thought I was pretty steady,” Lee said. “I started off pretty well, made four birdies on the front nine, and then two on the back, and bogeyed the last. Overall, pretty solid.”
Lincicome also had six birdies and a bogey.
“I love it here every year whether I play good or not,” Lincicome said. “But it was nice to get off to a good start today. Finally got the putter rolling my way, which was nice, especially when I had the 3- to 5-footers to save par. Those were going in consistently.”
Gerina Piller was at 67 along with Sei Young Kim, Moriya Jutanugarn, Pornanong Phatlum, Caroline Masson, Jennifer Song, Laetitia Beck and Sandra Gal. Piller has five straight top-10 finishes.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko closed with a birdie for a 73. The 19-year-old New Zealander was 5 over in a six-hole stretch in the middle of the round with a double bogey and three bogeys. She won the Kia Classic and major ANA Inspiration in consecutive weeks in Southern California.
“It wasn’t like we were playing with any mud balls,” Ko said. “Just on the greens was the toughest part. Not easiest pin positions, and even if you’re 15, 12 feet, you could be running it 3, 4 feet by. That’s how fast the greens were.”
Ko played alongside second-ranked Inbee Park and No. 3 Lexi Thompson.
“It’s a pretty cool pairing,” Ko said. “Hopefully, tomorrow all of us will be able to shoot under par and have even more of a good time. Just personally, I didn’t feel like I was playing really bad out there. Just a couple or three shots I was giving away. We still had a pretty good time.”
Thompson had a 72. She’s coming off a victory two weeks ago on the Japan LPGA. Park shot a 74 after a month off because of a left thumb injury.
Ariya Jutanugarn had a 69. She’s coming off a victory two weeks ago in Alabama that made her the first Thai winner in LPGA Tour history.
Fourth-ranked Stacy Lewis had a 70. Lewis tied for second in Alabama for her 10th runner-up finish in a 49-event drought. The 11-time tour winner has 23 career second-place finishes.
Fifth-ranked Brooke Henderson, playing with Lewis, also shot 70.
Michelle Wie made two late birdies for a 72. She’s winless since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open and hasn’t had a top-10 finish in 35 events.