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Yubol shoots a career-best 61 to take lead at ShopRite LPGA Classic

Sarah Stier / Getty Images Sport / Getty

GALLOWAY, N.J. (AP) — Aprichaya Yubol followed a career-best finish on the LPGA Tour with a career-low 10-under 61 on Friday and took a two-shot lead over Jenny Shin after the first round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The 22-year-old Thai player, who finished fifth in last week's U.S. Women's Open, had eight birdies and a chip-in eagle playing in calm conditions in the morning on the Bay Course at Seaview Resort. With a 60 within her grasp, she narrowly missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 ninth hole, her last of the day.

Hannah Green is the only other player to shoot 61 this year, doing it at par-72 Seville in Gilbert, Arizona, in March.

“I feel like I just start to play golf, like happy golf like every hole,” said Yubol, who won as a professional in Thailand. “Because I feel like my confident is coming back from last week in the U.S. Women. It was the greatest week in my life and then it’s make me more confident for this week.”

Yuka Saso followed up her second U.S. Women's Open title with a 2-under 69 on Friday. Hinako Shibuno, who was runner-up last week to her Japanese countrywoman at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania, opened with a 66.

Yubol's 61 matched the tournament record shared by Sei Young Kim and Sakura Yokomine in 2018. Annie Park ended up winning that year.

Shin, who has one win since joining the tour in 2011, played in the afternoon with stronger wind. She had nine birdies and bogey.

“Well, the fact that every hole is birdie-able, compared to last week, just helped a lot,” Shin said. “A little bit easier just kind of going after the pin, which I didn’t do at all. So, yeah, it was fun. That was the biggest difference: It was fun.”

Narin An shot a bogey-free 64 and was three shots back. The 28-year-old, a two-time winner on the Korean LPGA, is seeking her first U.S. victory.

Brittany Lincicome, the 38-year-old whose eight tour wins include this event in 2011, had her best round of the year playing with a new putter and was part of a large group at 65.

“I feel like I’ve been so close the last couple weeks,” said Lincicome, who has missed five of seven cuts this year and is looking for her first win since 2018. “Right on the bubble, missing the cut by one most weeks. So it was nice to get out there and get a round under par. Hopefully we keep it going and see what we can do the next two days.”

Brooke Henderson, who won this event two years ago, also shot 65 alongside Nasa Hataoka, Megan Khang and amateur Rachel Kuehn, a 22-year-old from Wake Forest, who overcame a bogey-bogey start.

Defending champion Ashleigh Buhai shot 67.

Yubol has resurrected her game over the past two weeks. After finishing in a tie for 49th in her first event, she missed the cut in her next six. She rediscovered her form in the U.S. Women's Open last weekend and shot 68-69 in the final two rounds to earn $465,375, her biggest payday.

Yubol said her manager visited her before the Open and they spent hours talking about her game. His message was he believed in her and she should believe in herself and stop worrying about losing her playing privileges.

It's worked. so far.


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