Rose Zhang put together her lowest round of the LPGA season, a 7-under 65, at the inaugural Maybank Championship at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Malaysia and trails by two. Thailand’s Jasmine Suwannapura leads the field after an opening 63 while Australia’s Hannah Green shot 64.
The first round of the Maybank was suspended at 1:53 p.m. local time due to dangerous weather conditions and resumed at 5:41 p.m., a delay of 3 hours and 48 minutes. Eight groups had to finish their rounds after the delay. Zhang wasn’t one of them.
“I’m super happy,” said Zhang, “especially going into the last hole I knew we were cutting it close.”
Zhang, who hasn’t posted a top-20 finish since the Amundi Evian in July, holds a share of third with fellow rookie winner Grace Kim, Linn Grant, Gina Kim and Peiyun Chien.
Suwannapura, who started on the back nine, took the lead early on Thursday after going birdie, eagle, birdie on Nos. 13-15. One of four players in the field to eagle the drivable par-4 No. 14, Suwannapura hit every fairway and missed only two greens in her bogey-free 63.
“I feel like you really need to hit straight here,” said the 30-year-old LPGA veteran. “Every single shot, even par 5, it’s either go for it or layup. It’s very narrow, so everything have to be perfect here to have a chance to make birdies.”
There are six Malaysian players in the field this week, and Epson Tour grad Natasha Andrea Oon posted the lowest round of the group, a 2-under 70.
“I played with Lydia (Ko) and Hannah (Green) today, who I really looked up to being in college golf, growing up, junior golf,” said Oon. “I really idolized Lydia, so that was kind of surreal for me… Just teeing off in my home country and having a lot of support and everybody cheering me on, it was kind of surreal. Felt like a celebrity, so that was really nice. I had a good time.”
Malaysia’s Kelly Tan celebrated her 30th birthday with a 71 that included a chip-in on the fourth hole.