LPGA Stephanie Kyriacou jumps in front at ShopRite LPGA Classic

Stephanie Kyriacou, in search of her first career LPGA Tour win, got off to a strong start at the ShopRite LPGA Classic on Friday in Galloway Township, N.J.

The 21-year-old Australian fired a 6-under-par 67 at Seaview Hotel and Golf Club to grab a one-shot lead over Sweden’s Frida Kinhult after the first round.

Kyriacou missed the cut in each of her three most recent events and has never finished higher than 13th place on the tour.

On Friday, she posted her lowest-ever LPGA Tour round and emerged with a first-round lead for the first time. Kyriacou produced a bogey-free card that featured consecutive birdies to close the front nine.

“I just took three weeks off, so I think being able to just take some time off, work on some things, and then come out with a bit more confidence was definitely part of it,” said Kyriacou, who has won twice on the Ladies European Tour. “But I don’t know, I just didn’t really make a mistake. When I missed the green, I made up and down. It was just fun to play today.”

Kinhult, a 22-year-old former Florida State player, is also seeking her first tour victory. Playing the back nine first, she sat at 1 under through the break before an eventful front nine.

She made three birdies in a four-hole span from No. 2 to No. 5, then gave a stroke back with a bogey at the sixth hole. Kinhult capped her round with an eagle on the par-5 ninth hole. Her second-shot approach from 230 yards landed within in 13 feet of the cup, and she sank the eagle putt.

“It was really good tee-to-green all day,” Kinhult said. “Felt really good to finally drop that one on the last. I had I think three lip-outs today, so I felt good to pin with one in the middle of the hole. …

“I played really, really solid out there, so I hit a lot of fairways and greens and managed to make a couple putts.”

Canada’s Brooke M. Henderson, South Korea’s Jin Young Ko and the Philippines’ Dottie Ardina are tied for third at 4 under.

Thirteen players share seventh place at 3 under: the United States’ Meaghan Francella, Lauren Hartlage, Cristie Kerr, Lindsey Weaver-Wright and Rachel Rohanna; South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park, Jeongeun Lee6 and Jeongeun Lee5; Switzerland’s Morgane Metraux; Japan’s Nasa Hataoka; England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff; Germany’s Caroline Masson and Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg.

Defending champion Celine Boutier of France is tied for 35th place at 1 under.

–Field Level Media

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