Ashleigh Simon produced a good opening round at Sahalee Country Club as the Women’s PGA Championship got underway on Thursday. Her one-under-par 70 made her one of only nine players in the field to break par.
The 27-year-old started on the 10th, where she rolled in a birdie before adding another at the 13th. The two-time SA Women’s Open champion dropped a shot at the 14th before back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th. She dropped a shot at the 18th to make the turn at two-under-par.
Her second nine, beginning on the first, was a lot less productive. The two-time Ladies European Tour winner dropped a shot at the first before rolling in three straight pars. She picked up the last birdie of her round at the par-three fifth before dropping another shot at the seventh. She closed with two pars to share fourth place, one stroke adrift of second-placed Christina Kim and In-Kyung Kim.
There is a crowded leaderboard from second place downwards and 81 players are within six shots of each other. Brooke Henderson engineered a two-shot lead thanks to a four-under-par 67. She was helped greatly by a hole-in-one on the par three 13th and her round also included five birdies. She did however drop three shots along the way, coming at the first, third and 12th, after starting at the 10th.
Defending champion Inbee Park opened with a one-over-par 72 to sit in a tie for 20th place. The round also qualified her to be an inductee into the Women’s Golf Hall of Fame, for which she received plaudits from legends of the game such as Se Ri Pak and Juli Inkster.