Date: February 18, 2016
Author: Martin Blake

KO: World No. 1 in sound position as Open draws big crowds

World No. 1 player Lydia Ko made a sound start to her ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open defence with a two-under par 70 at The Grange today.

Huge crowds turned out at the west course to celebrate the return of big-time golf to Adelaide and to follow the brilliant Ko, Australia's top-ranked player Minjee Lee, and South Korea's Ha Na Jang, all three among the top players in the world.

Lee rolled in a nice birdie from four metres at the ninth hole, her last of the day, to card an opening 69, three-under par, the same score as Jang.

As for Ko, she did not bring her best game, hitting a couple of wayward tee shots, but as ever, she extracted the best possible result from her round with some great par-saves.

"I'll take it,'' she said afterward. "I hit two really loose shots where it was hard to put myself in position the next time, but overall I played pretty solid. Not many putts dropped but they were dropping today but they were hitting the edges. I think I was putting a good stroke on it and that's all you can do.''

Ko was surprised at the first-day galleries on a beautiful morning. "The crowds were fantastic. I mean, the 18th hole, which was our ninth today, was really packed and we were surprised because it was the morning field and we were only two and a half hours into our round.''

Lee had a plugged lie in the greenside trap that cost her a bogey at the par-four 11th hole, and she made another bogey at the seventh hole when she tugged her short iron approach, missed the green and failed to get up-and-down.

"It was pretty steady out there,'' said the Perth 19-year-old. "I didn't have any major blowout mistakes.''