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Linn Grant & Jaravee Boonchant share first-round lead at Dana Open

Linn Grant of Sweden and Jaravee Boonchant of Thailand are tied for the lead after one round of the Dana Open on Thursday in Sylvania, Ohio. Grant and Boonchant shot 7-under 64 at Highland Meadows Golf Club to eke in front of the pack, with Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen at 6-under 65, and Rose Zhang among a host of players at 5-under 66.

Grant poured in seven birdies amid a bogey-free round, while Boonchant kicked off her round with an eagle and had two bogeys to go with seven birdies. Grant, 24, was an LPGA rookie last season and had a breakthrough performance this past May with a third-place showing at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play. She began her round on the back nine and made all pars until the par-4 16th. She took advantage there and the next two holes, both of them par-5s, for a three-birdie run before adding four more on the front nine.

“I was striking the ball really well both off the tee and into the greens,” Grant said. “Just felt very comfortable with my swing and didn’t have to force anything. I was just having great tempo, so just try and keep that for tomorrow.” Boonchant, meanwhile, is also 24 and in her rookie year on tour. She couldn’t have gotten off to a better start to the tournament when she holed out for eagle from 128 yards at the par-4 10th hole, her first hole of the day.

“I never thought I would, like, hole out. I was just trying to hit the green,” Boonchant said. “I had 128 to the pin I believe and I was just like on the first cut and I was like, ‘OK, this shot, just anywhere on the green.’ … and the ball just happened to hit one bounce and hop in the hole.”

Boonchant had missed four cuts in a row entering the week and has one top-10 finish this season. Jutanugarn turned in a clean card with six birdies, while Pedersen had seven birdies and one bogey. Pedersen, who was the clubhouse leader for a length of time before Grant and Boonchant finished, has won five times on the Ladies European Tour but never on American soil. “Just try to do the same things (the rest of the week),” Pedersen said. “I was just trying to stay patient. I’ve not been hitting the ball great with my irons, so I was kind of prepared for whenever I wasn’t going to hit a good one, I would just have to go over and get it up and down. That kind of mindset kept me very calm all day.”

Zhang, the 20-year-old former Stanford star who won in her professional debut in June, also went bogey-free with three birdies on the back nine (her first nine) and two more on the front. “I am in the beginning of Month 2 of my professional career,” Zhang said. “Just pretty insane. I feel like I’ve just started my professional career, but it also felt like forever just because I had so many obligations and so many different things that happened.”

Zhang is one of nine players tied for fifth at 66. Also among that group are China’s Xiyu Lin, the No. 10 player in the world rankings who contended at the past two majors, and Bailey Tardy, who was a surprise contender at last week’s U.S. Women’s Open and tied for fourth.

Allisen Corpuz, after winning the U.S. Women’s Open, opened this tournament with a 4-under 67. Thirteen players are tied at that score, including Lydia Ko of New Zealand, Minjee Lee of Australia and Sei Young Kim of South Korea. –Field Level Media


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