Lexi Thompson has a lot to play for this week in Thailand.

With an opening round 8-under par, 64 Thompson rook the outright lead on Thursday at the Honda LPGA Thailand, one-stroke ahead of Q Baek in solo second at 7-under par and defending champion Amy Yang at 6-under par.

Currently ranked No.4 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings,Thompson could overtake No 3 Stacy Lewis as the top ranked American with a win this week in Thailand and become the first American to win in this event in its 10-year history.

“I feel great,” Thompson said after her round. “I think I was just very confident out there. I committed to all my shots, just aiming at pins and focused on doing my routine, staying relaxed, and I think that's what helped me out the most.”

21-year old Thompson got off to a quick start with an eagle at the par 5, 1st hole, followed by two more birdies and another eagle on the par 5, 7th to make the turn in 30. She strung together five pars to start her second nine before making back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th holes to climb to 8-under par and extend her lead to as many as four-strokes. Thompson bettered her low round at Siam Country Club’s Old Course by two strokes, having posted a final round 6-under par, 66 in this event in 2012 and finished just one stroke shy of matching the course record of 63 after missing a birdie putt at the last.

“Yeah, I didn't even know what the course record was, but I was just trying to fire at each pin, so I just played aggressive the whole day, tried to commit to every shot, do my routine and just be positive out there,” Thompson said.

Thompson is playing with a new driver this week, adding to her bag what she described as the new King Cobra, a 9-degree driver with an extra stiff shaft by Fujikura that is both black and blue in design. Thompson said she pulled out the driver on nearly every hole on Thursday, hitting 11 of 14 fairways in round one.

“Well, I've been trying to work into it for probably the last few months, and just trying to find a shaft that works for me, and finally found something I'm very comfortable with.”Baek is making her 2016 LPGA Tour debut this week in Thailand and first start in this event. She started her day on the back nine and posted an opening round bogey-free 7-under par, 65 that included an eagle at the par 4, 2nd hole, to finish the day just one back of Thompson. Thursday’s round is the lowest for Baek since posting a closing round 65 in October at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

Defending champion Amy Yang is well positioned to defend this week thanks to an opening round bogey-free, 6-under par, 66 to sit two back of Thompson but isn't feeling the pressure to go back-to-back.

"I mean, a lot of things went really well today, but especially my short game and putting was solid. You know, it's always good to have a bogey-free round, and I'm happy to start with a good round,” Yang said after her round. “I mean, compared with regular tournaments it's a little bit more extra pressure, but I would just focus on what I'm going to do next, not really putting pressure on myself much. Yeah, not much, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing, focus and be patient."

Jenny Shin and Azahara Munoz are in a share of fourth at 4-under par, ahead of a group of eight players at 3-under par. The top ranked player in the field, No.2 Inbee Park is making her first start this week since withdrawing with a back injury following the opening round of the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. On a day when the 2013 champ wasn’t able to get anything going, Park finished at even par, 8-strokes back of the lead.

 

Click here for complete round one scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand.

 

Written By: Amy Rogers LPGA

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