Closing birdie gives Yang one-shot first-round lead at Women's PGA

 30 Jun 2017 - 19:27

Closing birdie gives Yang one-shot first-round lead at Women's PGA
Amy Yang of South Korea hits her tee shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the 2017 KPMG PGA Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club on June 29, 2017 in Olympia Fields, Illinois. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP)

By Andrew Both / Reuters

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Illinois: Amy Yang had little time to contemplate her lofty position after taking the first-round lead at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on Friday.

Yang, among 30 players unable to complete the opening round on Thursday due to a late-afternoon thunderstorm, had only the par-five 18th to negotiate on the early morning resumption.

She made short work of it with a two-putt birdie to post a six-under-par 65, good for a one-shot advantage over fellow South Korean Chella Choi at Olympia Fields.

The highlight of Yang’s round was an eagle at the par-four second, where she holed out from 192 yards.

“It was blowing downwind,” she told reporters. “I tried to play an 80 (180-yard) shot and it landed like seven, eight yards before, and it rolled in.

“I’m hitting the ball very solid lately, and making some putts, too. I've been looking for this round of golf and it's going really well. Feel pretty good about how I played yesterday.”

Yang, twice a major runner-up at the U.S. Women's Open, said overnight rain would allow for another day of low scoring in the second major of the women’s season.

“Won’t be as hard as last round ... because you have a lot of moisture,” she said, before heading straight back out for her second round on an overcast morning.

Choi, who had a late tee time on Friday, was particularly pleased with her opening 66 after only one practice round, leaning heavily on her father-caddie Ji for advice.

"I played just 18 holes before the tournament, so I don't remember every hole," said Choi, winner of one LPGA event. "But I ask my dad, every hole, every shot and my shots were very good today."

Not that her father's advice was perfect.

"My father missed a couple of shots today but it just happens because wind is every time switching, so very difficult for the caddie," she said.

Another South Korean, newly-crowned world number one Ryu So-yeon, felt the pressure of her exalted position, which was brought home on the first tee when her caddie Tom Watson was presented with the ceremonial green bib with the number ‘1’ boldly displayed.

“Every time when I saw someone's caddie wearing that green bib, I thought that was like a really cool thing, one day I want to have that bib for my caddie, as well,” said Ryu, who shot a 69 on her 27th birthday.

“Finally, dreams come true, and Tom wore that bib.”