Charley Hull off to excellent start in third women’s major of the year

Charley Hull made an encouraging start in her bid for a maiden major title as she fired a four-under 68 in the opening round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Hull kick-started her challenge with an eagle at the fourth and added five birdies at Kemper Lakes, although three bogeys – including two over the last three holes, left her two strokes adrift of early first-round leader Sung Hyun Park.

World No 6 Park birdied four of the first seven holes and picked up two more shots on the back nine to complete a bogey-free 66 which hoisted the South Korean one ahead of Brittany Altomare, Brooke Henderson, Jaye Marie Green and Hull’s playing partner Jessica Korda.

Hull’s big highlight was her eagle-three at the fourth which she followed with a birdie at five, although she dropped her first shot of the day at the eighth before beginning the inward nine with back-to-back birdies.

The English star had a mixed finishing stretch as she offset further gains at 15 and 17 with bogeys at the 16th and 18th, but Hull was pleased with her performance despite experiencing issues with a lack of grip on her footwear.

“I played pretty well, but I just slipped quite a few times on a few shots,” said Hull. “I felt like I putted quite well, I hit it quite well, and it was a decent day, apart from bogeying the last, but it was a good day.

“I like majors, they’re my favourite weeks. I just think the golf courses, they suit me better because they’re tricked up a bit more, and I like that. I enjoy it.

“I think this is my best start of the season I’ve had in my career on the LPGA. I’ve had a few top-10s, including both the majors so far this year, and I’m just playing really good. I just feel my game is in great shape.”

Hull’s compatriot and Solheim Cup team-mate Jodi Ewart Shadoff opened with a solid two-under 70, while Mel Reid was also two under with two holes remaining.

Shot of the day went to world No 3 and home favourite Lexi Thompson, who was one over with four to play when she made a hole-in-one at the short sixth, her perfect nine-iron finding the bottom of cup 165 yards away.

But Thompson then ran up a bogey-six on the next hole and parred in to stay at level par along with English duo Georgia Hall and Bronte Law and US Women’s Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn.

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