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Aprichaya Yubol scores a career-best 61 to take first-round lead at ShopRite LPGA Classic

GALLOWAY, NJ – Aprichaya Yubol followed a career-best finish on the LPGA Tour with a career-low 10-under 61 on Friday to take a two-shot lead over Jenny Shin after the first round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The 22-year-old Thai player, who finished fifth at the US Women’s Open last week, had eight birdies and a chip-in eagle while playing in calm conditions on the Seaview Resort’s Bay Course in the morning. With a 60 within reach, she narrowly missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 ninth hole, her last of the day.

Hannah Green is the only other player to shoot 61 this year, and she did so in March at par-72 Seville in Gilbert, Arizona.

“I feel like I’m just starting to play golf, kind of happy golf like every hole,” said Yubol, who won as a professional in Thailand. “Because I feel like my confidence is coming back from last week in the US Women. It was the best week of my life and it gives me more confidence for this week.”

Yuka Saso followed up her second US Women’s Open title on Friday with a 2-under 69. Hinako Shibuno, who finished second to her Japanese compatriot at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania last week, opened with a 66.

Yubol’s 61 matched the tournament record shared by Sei Young Kim and Sakura Yokomine in 2018. Annie Park ended up winning that year.

Shin, who has one win since joining the tour in 2011, played with stronger winds in the afternoon. She had nine birdies and a bogey.

“Well, the fact that every hole is birdie-able, compared to last week, has helped tremendously,” Shin said. “A little easier, just going after the pin, which I didn’t do at all. So yeah, it was fun. That was the biggest difference: it was fun.”

Narin An shot a bogey-free 64 and was three shots back. The 28-year-old, a two-time winner on the Korean LPGA, is aiming for her first American victory.

Brittany Lincicome, the 38-year-old whose eight tour victories include this event in 2011, had her best round of the year playing with a new putter and was part of a big group at age 65.

“I feel like I’ve been so close the last few weeks,” said Lincicome, who has missed five of seven cuts this year and is looking for her first win since the 2018 weeks. So it was nice to go out and get an under-par round. Hopefully we can keep it going and see what we can do in the next two days.”

Brooke Henderson, who won the event two years ago, also shot a 65 alongside Nasa Hataoka, Megan Khang and amateur Rachel Kuehn, a 22-year-old from Wake Forest, who overcame a bogey-bogey start.

Defending champion Ashleigh Buhai shot 67.

Yubol has revived her game in the past two weeks. After finishing tied for 49th in her first event, she missed the cut in her next six. She rediscovered her form at the US Women’s Open last weekend, shooting 68-69 in the final two rounds to earn $465,375, her biggest payday.

Yubol said her manager visited her before the Open and they talked about her game for hours. His message was that he believed in her and that she should believe in herself and stop worrying about losing her playing rights.

AP Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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