Dottie Ardina pressed her drive for a first LPGA title, shooting a four-under-par 67 in the first round of the Shoprite LPGA Classic in Galloway, New Jersey on Friday.
The 29-year-old Filipina opened with back-to-back birdies and countered a lone bogey with three birdies in the last 11 holes.
Bianca Pagdanganan, the other Filipina in the field, opened with a 71. She mixed four birdies with the same number of bogeys.
Swedish veteran Dani Holmqvist fired an eagle and five birdies in a seven-under par 64 to take a one-shot lead over Liu Yan and Jenny Shin.
China’s Liu and South Korean Shin were in the clubhouse on six-under 65 when Holmqvist put together her bogey-free afternoon round.
She teed off on 10 and picked up three birdies in her first nine holes before an eagle at the par-five third, where she rolled in a 15-foot putt.
A birdie at the sixth gave her a share of the lead and she rolled in another birdie putt at the seventh to stand alone atop the leaderboard in the 54-hole event on the Seaview Bay Course in Galloway, New Jersey.
“It was phenomenal,” said Holmqvist, who is chasing a first career LPGA title. She turned pro in 2014, but a back injury suffered in a 2018 golf cart accident sidelined her for much of 2019 and disrupted the subsequent seasons.
“Some weeks you’re better than others, and some weeks you feel like you’re losing,” she added. “So it’s fun to actually come up on top for once. This game is tough, and (you’ve) just got to cherish the moments when you actually put together a good one.”
Liu, trying to become the third player from China to win an LPGA title, had two eagles in her roller-coaster of a round and said that after opening birdie-bogey she told her caddie she just wanted to take things easy.
A birdie at the third was followed by bogeys at the fourth and fifth before an eagle at the par-five ninth, where she stuck a hybrid second shot a yard from the pin.
She birdied three in a row from the 12th, 13th and 14th before rolling in a long eagle putt at the 18th.
“I did a pretty good back nine,” said Liu, who has a China LPGA win — at the 2019 Hong Kong Ladies Open — on her resume. “I just want to stay focused on my game and, like today, play easy golf.”
Shin, seeking to add another win to her 2016 Texas Shootout triumph, had six birdies without a bogey.
She teed off on 10 and had three birdies in her first nine holes then drained a birdie putt from off the green at the second before adding birdies at the third and ninth.
“Bogey-free rounds are always very happy rounds,” Shin said. “I dropped the putts when I needed to and I hit some good shots coming into the par-fives and gave myself really good opportunities for birdie. So, yeah, good round overall.”
Shin said the strong start was especially important in a 54-hole tournament.
“I think I did that part right,” she said.