Joh makes waves with lead in round 1

Tiffany Joh watching her tee shot during the Marathon Classic on July 12.
Tiffany Joh watching her tee shot during the Marathon Classic on July 12.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Surfing enthusiast fires career-best 62 at Scottish Open, a year after cancer treatment

LONDON • American journeywoman golfer Tiffany Joh has one eye on the Scottish Open title and one on a spot of weekend surfing, after taking the lead with a majestic first-round 62 on Thursday.

The 31-year-old, who was diagnosed with melanoma in January last year and had the cancerous area on her head removed, returned to the Tour just four months later. She has a four-shot lead over a trio of South Koreans - Jenny Shin, Amy Yang and reigning British Open champion Kim In-kyung.

Despite her illness, Joh, who is known as one of the jokers on the tour, never lost her zeal for life.

The world No. 177 has yet to win on the LPGA Tour but stressed she had other goals besides lifting the trophy at Gullane Golf Club.

"I've been doing a little research and I heard that there's a place called Pease Bay that might be pretty decent," she said. "I have a little magic sea app and it tells me the nearest surf breaks and if there's any surf forecast.

"Today and tomorrow it didn't look like there was anything very good, but it looked like this weekend there might be a little swell in the water."

Even if she does not manage to get some surfing in, she was creating waves with her golf and putter. She had her short-game coach Gareth Raflewski in town and benefited from his presence, nailing nine birdies, including two long putts on her first and last hole.

"I have a really bad memory," she said. "But the first was about 60 feet and then I made the next one from about 48 feet.

"I putted amazing. That's the only way I could describe it today. I didn't hit it particularly well, but I missed in the right places and I had a hot putter."

Her 62 was the lowest round of her professional career and gave Joh the opening-round lead of an event for the first time since 2012.

Kim said she and her fellow Koreans may not have the habit of playing links golf but they have taken to it with alacrity.

"We play in very windy conditions and we play in rainy conditions (in Korea) and everything, but this is very different," said the world No. 7, who won three times last year. "We're just kind of looking at the view and like we've never seen it before so it's exciting."

Park Sung-hyun, who has a chance to overtake compatriot Park In-bee for the top ranking with a win, started with a 67.

The youngest player in the field, 19-year-old Karoline Lund, posted a 67 and is tied for fifth in her first official LPGA event.

"It's so cool to just compete against those that have been your idols, like your whole life, and you've only watched them on television," said the Norwegian.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2018, with the headline 'Joh makes waves with lead in round 1'. Print Edition | Subscribe