Date: February 19, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Ariya bolts to early lead


Emerging Thai star Ariya Jutanugarn has lit up the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open to bolt to an early lead.

The immensely powerful world No.60 made five birdies and one bogey on the back nine to be four under through nine holes, two shots clear of nine players on two under.

Jutanurgarn, 19, has been plagued by a shoulder injury early in her professional career, but is fully fit now, as evidenced by her runner-up finish on the LPGA Tour event in the Bahamas a fortnight ago.

And she has shown few signs of that form abating at Royal Melbourne.

She opened with a birdie on the par-five 10th, then followed with a bogey after finding the sand on the 11th off the tee.

But she quickly made amends, chipping in from 12m for birdie on the tough 12th, another from 3m on the 13th and almost holing out for eagle from the bunker on the 14th.

And while she kept her driver in the bag until the 17th, her power was clearly evident and another birdie from the right rough on 18 enabled her to shoot clear.

Queenslander Katherine Kirk is two under playing alongside Jutanugarn, while young Victorian Su Oh has been desperately unlucky to be two over the card.

Five-time champion Karrie Webb is even par through eight holes alongside world No.4 Shanshan Feng.

In the same group, 2012 champion Korda has had an up and down day, but is also even par despite a double bogey on the par-4 13th.

Among those at two under are Mika Miyazato, Chella Choi, Holly Clyburn and popular American Tiffany Joh.