Ko equals LPGA sub-par record

Lydia Ko overcame an early spate of bogeys to equal an LPGA record and sit handily placed after the first round of the year’s opening major championship.

New Zealand’s world No.1 Ko shares 10th place on one-under 71 in the ANA Inspiration tournament in California, four shots behind outright leader Morgan Pressel of the United States.

Pressel won the tournament in 2007, when it had a different name, at the age of 18 to become the youngest women’s major winner.

Ko, 17, can break that mark if victorious at the Mission Hills course.

She was eventually satisfied after running into early problems, carding four bogeys in the space of six holes, having started her early round on the back nine.

Birdies on the second and eighth holes restored order after Ko took time out at the midway point of her round to read a note written for her by coach David Leadbetter.

“I just took a step back and said `this is a whole new nine,” she said.

“There are birdie opportunities there. I just tried to keep it simple but it wasn’t as simple as I would have liked.”

Ko shot her 29th successive round under par, equalling the record set 11 years ago by women’s golfing great Annika Sorenstam.

Her streak, which began late last year, is actually 32 rounds for professional tournaments, having maintained the run when winning this year’s three-round New Zealand Open, which is sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour.

The next best streak by a woman is 18 rounds.

Ko said matching Sorenstam wasn’t on her mind as she struggled with her long game on Thursday.

“I really wasn’t hitting my driver well and here the rough can get pretty thick so when you’re in that position, the record was the last thing I was thinking about,” she said.

Ten-time major champion Sorenstam congratulated Ko in a tweet.

“Congrats @Lko424 You are doing things I only dreamed about at 17. Keep it up!”

Ko attracted questions about a remarkable recovery shot on the par-four seventh hole, when she unleashed a vicious low hook to get the ball around a tree and onto the green.

She described it as one of the most difficult shots of her career, off a difficult lie.

“It was a pretty nasty place to be.”

Pressel leads by a shot from Japan’s Ai Miyazato.

Four golfers share third on three-under – Americans Juli Inkster and Alison Walshe, South Korean So Yeon Ryu and Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera.

Karrie Webb is the best-placed Australian at two-over-par in a tie 51st.

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