Confident Tan hits the right spots

Confident Tan hits the right spots

NEW YORK • Malaysia’s Kelly Tan was pleased with her ball-striking after she birdied three of her first four holes in shooting a three-under 67 to match American Brittany Lincicome for the lead after Thursday’s opening round of the Women’s PGA Championship.

World No. 189 Tan, seeking her first LPGA victory, sank three birdie putts from 25 feet and beyond to help offset two bogeys in a tough opening round at Aronimink in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.

“Ball-striking was really good today,” she said. “I just feel like I was hitting to the right spot, giving myself those uphill looks, and made a few nice 20 to 30-footers.”

Lincicome managed four birdies against a lone bogey as she chases a third Major victory after the 2009 and 2015 ANA Inspiration titles.

“Very happy,” she said. “Today it was kind of trusting my process, fairways and greens, being aggressive, don’t leave the putts short, and kind of just attack the golf course, and it kind of worked, which is really scary because this golf course was not easy. It was really windy. It was cold at times.”

A pack on 68 in joint third comprised New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, Sweden’s Linnea Strom, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, Mexico’s Gaby Lopez and Americans Danielle Kang and Cydney Clanton.

Unheralded Tan, 26, produced her best LPGA finish with a share of fourth as a rookie at the 2014 Marathon Classic and did not crack the top 10 again until August, when she shared ninth in the Marathon in only the second event back after a coronavirus shutdown in February.

“I try to tell myself that every day I have a little goal and try to achieve them and build confidence from there,” she said. “My ball-striking has been really good and I think that has been a key and it has been giving me a lot of confidence going into the next day.”

Her goal for round one was to stay calm and wait for opportunities.

“Just stay patient, take those 30-, 50-footers if you have to,” she said.

“It was really hard on some of the holes to take the flag out of consideration. I think I did that really well, and I’m really proud about that.”

Kelly Tan using her driver at the second tee on Thursday in the Women’s PGA Championship first round at Aronimink Golf Club. The 26-year-old Malaysian is tied for the lead with American Brittany Lincicome on three-under 67. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BOGEYS NOT AVOIDABLE

It’s a Major championship. You’re going to make bogeys. I just look at it as those things are going to happen. I’m not a robot. I’m not going to hit it to a perfect spot every time.

KELLY TAN, world No. 189, on not feeling too down about dropped shots.

She opened at the par-four 10th hole and made a 25-foot birdie putt, then added a seven-footer for birdie at the next and 30-foot birdie putts at the par-four 13th and 18th holes. She made bogeys at the par-four first and fourth holes but answered with a six-foot birdie putt at the par-four seventh.

“It’s a Major championship. You’re going to make bogeys,” she added. “I just look at it as those things are going to happen. I’m not a robot. I’m not going to hit it to a perfect spot every time. Just keep telling myself to keep giving myself chances and I did that very well coming home. This is a tough golf course, and I just feel like I hit it to the right spots. I could be aggressive on my putts and just really nice to see those long ones go in.

“I think I’m in a good spot.”

Lincicome birdied the second, took a bogey at the par-three fifth, then added birdies at the par-five ninth, par-four 11th and par-three 17th to claim a share of the lead, missing only one green in regulation all day despite tricky winds.

“Just trying to be aggressive,” she said. “We left a few putts short coming in. It was just tempo with the swing today and trying to swing slow.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WOMEN’S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

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