Australia’s Sarah Kemp sits just one shot off the lead after the first round of the LPGA Tour’s Marathon Classic in Ohio.
Kemp fired a four-under 67 at Highland Meadows Golf Club on Thursday to be in a group of four players a stroke behind South Korea’s Ha Na Jang.
The 29-year-old from NSW bogeyed the par-five ninth, her last hole of the round, to drop off the top of the leaderboard.
Jang, winless in 23 career tour events, birdied the par-five 18th for a five-under 66.
World No.1 Inbee Park, a three-time winner this season, signed for a 70 while defending champion New Zealand’s world No.2 Lydia Ko opened with a 71 to be tied for 40th.
Third-ranked Stacy Lewis also had a 71.
Kemp is joined in equal-second by Nannette Hill, Wei-Ling Hsu and Lee-Anne Pace.
Teenager Minjee Lee (69) is the next-best Australian followed by 46-year-old Wendy Doolan and Sarah Jane Smith, who both carded a 70, and Katherine Kirk (73).
It was a timely return to form for Kemp, who has missed the cut in seven of her 12 tournaments this season.
“My caddie and I were actually talking before I teed off that I had not had a 4 or 5 under in a while,” Kemp said.
“That was the plan today, so it was nice to pull it off. It’s confidence. I’ve had an inconsistent year, some good and some bad. Hopefully, for the rest of the three days I can keep it up.”
Kemp’s approach on the ninth landed in the rough to the left of the green. She hit to the fringe, but came back with a chip that hit the flagstick and she was able to make her putt for bogey.
“It was a funny lie,” Kemp said. “I had a bad lie for the first chip, where I shouldn’t have been in the first place.”