Ariya struggles as Ewart Shadoff, Hsu lead Australian Open

Ariya Jutanugarn (AFP pic)

ADELAIDE: Top-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn struggled on day one of the Australian Open Thursday with England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Taiwan’s Hsu Wei-ling seizing the early lead.

The Thai world number one, 2018’s standout player, carded two double bogeys and two bogeys to be well down the field with a four-over-par 76, leaving her 11 adrift of the leaders.

Ewart Shadoff and Hsu both shot 65s to be two clear of a group of three including veteran Karrie Webb, who has 41 wins to her name.

New Zealand’s former world number one Lydia Ko and Australian Minjee Lee, ranked seven, are four strokes further back in the LPGA Tour event at the Grange Golf Club in Adelaide, alongside France’s Celine Boutier who won last week’s Vic Open.

“To get off to a good start is always nice. I played really steady today,” Ewart Shadoff, a seven-year LPGA Tour player, said after her bogey-free round.

“It was perfect conditions. I hit some close shots and holed some good putts. Overall I just hit the ball well.”

Ewart Shadoff is ranked 59th in the world and has made steady improvement in recent years without winning a tournament as a professional.

Hsu is also looking for her maiden LPGA title after collecting a career-high four top-10 finishes last year.

She put herself well in contention with eight birdies, offset by a single bogey in her first round of the year.

“Everything today was perfect, the driver, the iron shots but especially the putting,” she said.