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Lin off to hot start

I’m happy with how I’m playing right now. My confidence is pretty high, really up there.

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Lin Xiyu of China fired an eight-under-par 64 to seize a one-stroke lead over Japan’s Nasa Hataoka after Thursday’s first round of the LPGA Queen City Championship.

The 26-year-old from Guangzhou made nine birdies against a lone bogey to finish one off her lowest LPGA round and pace the field after 18 holes at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“I’m happy with how I’m playing right now,” Lin said. “My confidence is pretty high, really up there.”

Bianca Pagdanganan rallied with two late birdies to salvage even par 72, the best score among three Filipinas in the field.

Filipino-Japanese Yuka Saso turned in a 73 while Dottie Ardina opened with a 75.

Australian Sarah Kemp and South Korean Kim A-lim shared third on 66 with a pack on 67 including Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn, Atthaya Thitikul and Jasmine Suwannapura, South Koreans Choi Hye-jin and Kim Sei-young and American Katherine Perry-Hamski.

Lin, who shared seventh last week, seeks her first LPGA title and had her best tour finish in March at Thailand, when she lost a playoff to Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen.

Lin, making her 188th career LPGA start, hasn’t missed a cut this year and took full advantage of softened conditions after five inches of rain in five days.

“Overall, I’m really lucky we got to play,” she said. “With that much rain, the greens were rolling really well and I was putting really well.”

Lin began on the back nine with three birdies in a row, added two more at the par-3 14th and par-5 15th and another at the 18th hole.

She had back-to-back birdies again at the par-3 third and par-5 fourth before stumbling with a bogey at the seventh.

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