Olson's career-best 63 gives her sole lead

Amy Olson hitting her tee shot at the par-three eighth hole in Thursday's first round of the CME Group Tour Championship.
Amy Olson hitting her tee shot at the par-three eighth hole in Thursday's first round of the CME Group Tour Championship.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MIAMI • Amy Olson's tough defeat at September's Evian Championship was a case of so near and yet so far. The American finished runner-up, also her best showing in her five LPGA career campaigns.

But she knows that what is most important is not to dwell on the past, but to look ahead and treat every tournament as a fresh start.

Playing in the LPGA's season-ending CME Group Tour Championship for the first time also helped, as Olson carded a bogey-free nine-under 63 - the best round of her career - on Thursday for the first-round lead.

The 26-year-old was one shot ahead of Brittany Lincicome and Nasa Hataoka and two shots ahead of Lexi Thompson.

"I don't have any bad memories (of the event)," she said at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, when asked about what spurred her good start.

"It's just fun to be playing well. It's always a good feeling. I had a lot like perfect numbers in today.

"Rolled the ball really well. I was just seeing the line, reading the putts really well, and hitting it where I wanted."

Teen sensation Hataoka, who won the Northwest Arkansas Championship in June and the Japan Classic earlier this month, fired a bogey-free 64 to share second with American Lincicome.

In doing so, the 19-year-old Japanese star jumped from fourth to first in the projected CME Globe bonus race standings, pushing ahead of world No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn, who opened with a 70.

The 22-year-old Thai star slipped with back-to-back bogeys at the third and fourth holes and stumbled with another on the closing hole to fall seven shots back.

Ariya has clinched the LPGA Player of the Year and money titles and is a runaway leader for the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she could take the bonus, she would be the first woman to sweep every major season-ending LPGA award.

Olson birdied the par-five opening hole, fired four birdies in a row to close the front nine and added four more in a row from the par-five 14th through the par-five 17th.

Lincicome, who began her round with five birdies in a row, closed with a bogey which prevented her from sharing the lead with Olson.

"I didn't really even think about it until maybe like the fifth one in a row," Lincicome said.

"I was like, 'Oh yeah, we're doing something great this week'."

American Thompson was fourth on 65 with Spaniard Carlota Ciganda another stroke adrift.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2018, with the headline 'Olson's career-best 63 gives her sole lead'. Print Edition | Subscribe