Golf: Karine Icher and Chella Choi share LPGA Founders Cup first-round lead

Karine Icher chips onto the 12th green during the first round of the Bank Of Hope Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club on March 15, 2018.
Karine Icher chips onto the 12th green during the first round of the Bank Of Hope Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club on March 15, 2018.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

(AFP) - France's Karine Icher fired seven birdies in a five-under 67 on Thursday (March 15) to join South Korea's Chella Choi atop the first-round leaderboard at the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix, Arizona.

In chilly, windy weather, Icher teed off early and got off to a blazing start with five birdies in her first eight holes.

She added birdies at the 11th and 14th to get to seven-under, but as the wind increased she bogeyed Nos. 15 and 18.

"I made some good putts and that made the difference," she said. "I hit good second shots. On this course, if you start getting confidence you can go low.

"It was a good front nine. On the back nine, I made two bogeys at the end, but with the wind picking up, it's a little bit hard."

Icher, who owns 45 top-10 finishes on the LPGA tour, is seeking her first title.

Choi lit up the leaderboard in the afternoon. She teed off on No. 10 and had four birdies in her first five holes en route to her share of the lead.

After two more birdies coming in she made her lone bogey of the day at her final hole, three-putting the ninth.

"It was windy and tough every hole out there," she said. "Every player was in the same position, I tried to calm myself and control myself."

Half a dozen players were a shot off the pace on 68. That included seven-time Major champion Park In Bee of South Korea.

Eight players on 69 included American Jessica Korda, who won two weeks ago in Thailand, and defending champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden.

Nordqvist made four birdies against just one bogey at her last to post a 69 to open her title defence.

"I played really solid today," she said. "It was a really hard wind. It was gusty and very cold, so it was hard to gauge yardages."