CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - Teen star Lydia Ko shot a 10-under 63 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the LPGA Tour's season-opening Women's Australian Open.
The 15-year-old amateur won the New Zealand Women's Open on Sunday for her third victory in a professional tournament. Last year, Ko won the New South Wales Open to become the youngest player to win a pro tour event and the Canadian Open to become the youngest LPGA Tour winner. She also won the U.S. Women's Amateur.
Ko opened with a bogey on the 10th hole, birdied the next four holes and eagled the par-5 15th. She bogeyed the 16th and birdied Nos. 17-18 to make the turn at 6-under 30 at Royal Canberra. The South Korean-born New Zealander added birdies on Nos. 2-4 and 6, dropped a stroke on No. 8 and closed with her 11th birdie.
``I was in a really good group to start off with,'' said Ko, grouped with top-ranked Yani Tseng and Michelle Wie the first two rounds. ``I was pretty nervous when I saw the draw that I was playing with two of the big names, but I mean the weather was beautiful, I think we all enjoyed our time out there.''
While still in high school, she hasn't had time to spend in class this year due to her golf commitments.
``I've got the Thailand Open next week and then the New Zealand LPGA Championship,'' Ko said. ``After that, I will start opening books.''
Colombia's Mariajo Uribe was a stroke back while South Korea's Jiyai Shin was two behind after a 65. Canada's Rebecca Lee-Bentham, playing in one of the final groups of the day, Ayako Uehara of Japan and South Korea's Lee Mi-hyang shot 66 to be tied for fourth.
Tseng, the Australian Open winner at Commonwealth in 2010 and 2011, opened with a 68 in her first tournament of the year. Wie, making her first appearance in Australia, shot a 74.
``I played very solid,'' Tseng said. ``I didn't putt as good, but I'm pretty happy I shot 5 under for the first round of the year.''
Tseng was impressed with Ko's maturity.
``Five under is still a good day ... but to Lydia 5 under is nothing,'' she said, laughing. ``I mean it was very fun to watch her play golf today.
``She still looks 15. I don't know how she hit the ball that well. I think she pushed me up a little bit, too. ... She was on fire. She could've shot a 12 or 13 under today.''
Stacy Lewis shot 69 and fellow American and defending champion Jessica Korda had a 70.