Linnea Johansson of Sweden posted a bogey-free, 7-under-par 64 to take a one-shot lead after one round of the inaugural JM Eagle LA Championship on Thursday in Los Angeles.
Johansson nosed ahead of world No. 6 Minjee Lee of Australia and Gemma Dryburgh of Scotland, who are tied for second at Wilshire Country Club at 6-under 65.
Danielle Kang, Caroline Inglis and India’s Aditi Ashok shot 5-under 66 to form a tie for fourth.
They’re all looking up at Johansson, a 29-year-old ranked No. 358 in the world entering the week.
Not only has Johansson never won on the LPGA Tour, her best career finish in a non-team event was a tie for 30th. She is 0-for-2 in making the cut this season.
“Obviously it’s been a little ride for me the past couple of years, struggling a little bit out here,” Johansson said. “The girls are good. It’s the best players in the world, so it should be tough, and so it is. It’s tough for everybody.
“But days when it clicks and when you really hit the shots that you want and manage to roll putts in, that’s the days you really enjoy it a little bit more, and it’s competitive out here, but starting off the tournament here like this, it’s great.”
Nobody in the field has an advantage in course knowledge as the tournament makes its debut. Johansson made the most of that leveling of the field, starting on the back nine and birdieing four of her first six holes before adding three on the second nine.
“I was making good decisions out there, clear targets, and just swinging it away, picking my line,” she said. “This is the line we’re going, and I was just swinging my best all day.”
Lee also started on the back and had three straight birdies at Nos. 14-16 before a bogey at the par-4 17th. She picked up four more birdies on her second nine, including the par-4 ninth, her closing hole.
Lee said Wilshire Country Club reminded her of home in Australia.
“Just the look of the bunkers and just how they’re situated on each hole,” Lee said. “Yeah, it just kind of gives me good vibes.”
Dryburgh birdied five of her first eight holes, and after a slip-up with bogeys at Nos. 9 and 12, she got it back and then some with three more birdies coming in.
“I could have birdied every hole to be honest,” Dryburgh said. “I hit it pretty close on all the holes, which was nice, and saw the putts going in, which was good. But yeah, got off to a hot start, which was nice.”
Cristie Kerr, 45, shot a 4-under 67 and was tied for seventh with Alison Lee, Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg and South Koreans Amy Yang and Hae Ran Ryu.
Lilia Vu, who won last week’s Chevron Championship for her first career major title, shot a 2-under 69. She’s in a large tie for 20th that also features world No. 1 Nelly Korda.
–Field Level Media