LPGA tour sizzles in Malaysia

Brittany Lang, Maria Hjorth, Na Yeon Choi and Dewi Claire Schreefel stormed into first place after Round One of this year's Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

Golf News: LPGA

The group finished the day on five-under with a score of 66 at The Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

Aretha Pan took the lead out of the four local participants, with four-over 75.

First to top the leader board after 18 holes was 21 year-old Lang from America, who carded a fantastic round that included six birdies on the 3rd, 5th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 17th.

Three of Lang's five top-10 finishes this year have come in the last two and a half months of the season. Lang started this strong stretch by finishing second at the RICOH Women's British Open, tying her career-best finish and earning her enough points to secure a spot on the 2011 US Solheim Cup team.

"I played really well and got off to a good start. I birdied hole 3 to get 1-under from there sailed in. I've been hitting the ball great for three, four, five months now. It just felt effortless today. I've had more energy, I've had more fun, and I'm playing better", said Lang, who will tee off tomorrow at 10.45am with Schreefel and Hjorth."

Shortly following suit was former Futures Tour player and newcomer to the LPGA Tour, Dewi Claire Schreefel, who similarly scored birdies on six holes of the course, her final hole being well received by the crowds. The 26 year-old Dutch golfer who resides in the Netherlands, played beautifully, looking one of the most comfortable players on the tournament's East Course, using two birdies in her final five holes to capture the joint lead. Despite it being her first time playing in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, Schreefel is no rookie to playing in Malaysia, having competed in the World Amateur in Kuala Lumpur, back in 2002.

Clearly delighted by her first day's performance, Schreefel said, "I started on the back nine and got off to a solid start with three birdies on that nine. I hit the ball pretty pure today and made a lot of good putts. The conditions are really good. The green rolls really true. The key is to just pick your spots on the fairways. All I can do is play my game and see what tomorrow brings."

Both players faced some stiff competition to maintain their number one position from a chasing duo, comprising of Sweden's Maria Hjorth and South-Korean Na Yeon Choi, both who also finished the round with scores of 66 after day one.

Hjorth, one of the more experienced golfers on the LPGA Tour, battled the heat of the day to secure consecutive birdies on holes 4, 5 and 6 with a further three to follow. Turning professional in 1996, her career highlights have seen her participate in the European Solheim Cup team in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2009 and playing on three winning teams in the Praia d'El Rey European Cup, as well as securing five LPGA Tour victories.

Choi, who turns 24 next week, extraordinarily scored birdies in the same holes as Hjorth, unfortunately also both crumbling on their last hole with a bogey (18th and 9th hole respectively). Currently ranked World No. 4 in the Rolex Rankings, Choi also had a successful run in her home country last week, finishing in second place by shooting 66 at the LPGA Hana Bank Championship.

Na Yeon Choi has recorded five of her top-10 finishes of 2011 in the last six events said, "I played well in the last two months. I finished in contention almost every week, so I feel great about my game. Every year in the beginning of the season I play so-so and then get better, better".

With the American, Dutch, Swedish and Korean players taking the overnight victory with a one-shot lead over Spain's Azahara Munoz and America's Paige Mackenzie, the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 2011 looks set to continue a competitive field.

World No.1 Yani Tseng, who has had a phenomenal year securing three victories in her last six starts, ended the first day with a score of two-under at 69, in joint 13th position with defending champion, Korean Jimin Kang.

Ladies European Tour member and sponsor invite, Melissa Reid, certainly had a day to remember, recording a hole in one. Reid, who played in this year's Solheim Cup team, used a 6-iron to hole out from 173 yards on the par-3 fifth hole.

On the home turf, Aretha Pan was the leading Malaysian after day one, posting a performance that included a two-foot birdie putt off the first hole and similarly on the sixth, although her double bogey brought her final score to four-over 75. Local Qualifier Pan lead the field for Malaysia with fellow compatriots, Jean Chua, Ainil Johani and Kelly Tan close behind with scores of 76, 76, and 77 respectively.

"I hit a few bad shots but I made a couple of birdies so I'm pleased with my performance", said 18 year-old Pan. "I'm very happy that I qualified for the second time, and I hope I can play better this year".

This year's event features the top 62 LPGA members from the LPGA Tour Official Money List, along with 10 sponsors' invites. The four-day stroke play event with no cut will ensure that players are in Kuala Lumpur for the tournament duration, and the local and regional golf community can catch their favourite golfers in action the entire week.

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