Vu lies stroke behind surprise Singapore LPGA leader

golf29 February 2024 11:21| © Reuters
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Lilia Vu © Getty Images

World No 1 Lilia Vu shot a three-under par 69 to be a stroke off the lead after the first round of the HSBC Women's World Championship in Singapore on Thursday.

The surprise leader, in a field featuring 15 of the world's top 20 in the LPGA Tour's flagship Asian event, was Sarah Schmelzel from the United States.

The world number 107 found herself a stroke clear at the head of the field after a four-under-par 68 at Sentosa Golf Club .

Vu was in a three-way tie for second with Sweden's Linn Grant and Germany's Esther Henseleit.

South Korea's Ko Jin-young, who is seeking an unprecedented treble of titles after winning the 2022 and 2023 editions, is three shots back from Schmelzel in a 13-way tie for 10th place on a stacked leaderboard.

Starting from the 10th and turning at one-over par, Schmelzel, who joined the LPGA Tour in 2019, carded five birdies on a fabulous closing nine to take an opening-round lead for the first time.

"I have not been in this position before," Shcmelzel told reporters.

"But I guess there's a first time for everything. I'm excited. Let's see what happens next.

"This is my fifth (LPGA) year, so I'm just trying to get into contention more and get a little bit better every day," said the 29-year-old.


Vu expressed disbelief that no one posted lower than four-under par around the 6 775-yard Tanjong course that hosts the tournament dubbed "Asia's major".

"I was surprised that the scores were so high. I always expect at least six-under to be the leader. But that shows you how tough the course is playing and it's a good challenge," said Vu.

Vu found it tough to find birdies – she got into red numbers only at the third, sixth and 14th holes – in a bogey-free 69.

"The course is playing way more difficult than last year, and I knew that coming into today," said Vu, who won two majors in a breakout 2023 season.

"The greens are playing firmer and you can't hit to tucked pins.

"You have to take your medicine and just have a 20-footer to try and make a birdie," said Vu.


68 – Sarah Schmelzel (USA)

69 – Lilia Vu (USA), Linn Grant (SWE), Esther Henseleit (GER)

70 – Chanettee Wannasaen (THA), Leona Maguire (IRL), Kim Hyo-joo (KOR), Andrea Lee (USA), In Gee-chun (KOR)

71 – Choi Hye-jin (KOR), Stephanie Kyriacou (AUS), Ko Jin-young (KOR), Albane Valenzuela (SUI), Amy Yang (KOR), Yin Ruoning (CHN), Yuna Nishimura (JPN), Nasa Hataoka (JPN), Allisen Corpuz (USA), Ayaka Furue (JPN), Jenny Shin (KOR), Madelene Sagstrom (SWE), Bianca Pagdanganan (PHI)