SANYA, Hainan Island, China (29 October 2015) – South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace struggled to get her title defence off the ground in the Blue Bay LPGA, but China’s Lin Xi Yu breezed to a one-stroke lead over American Austin Ernst on a very windy day on Hainan Island.
Xi Yu fired a flawless five-under-par 67, while Pace finished well off the pace at the lengthy Jian Blue Bay Golf Course.
The South African picked up a lone birdie at 18, but dropped shots at five, nine and 12.
A double bogey at the par-five eighth saw Pace find a seat on the bus at five over 76 with 13 other players, including Major champions Michelle Wie and Mo Martin.
“I am striking the ball really well, but the greens were another story,” Pace said.
“The greens are very hard and I battled to get the ball in the hole in the strong wind. I need a little luck, too, because I had five lip-outs. But it’s early days, yet.”
World number one Ko dropped five shots in four holes on the front nine and another two at 11 and 12 to finish a further stroke adrift in a tie for 55th.
Imbee Park from South Korea, who lost the top spot in the women’s world ranking to Ko last week, opened with a 75.
The $2 million event is the penultimate leg of the LPGA Tour’s five-tournament Asian swing.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.