Peiyun Chien of Taiwan used a late birdie barrage to card a 5-under-par 67 and earn the first-round lead at the Chevron Championship on Thursday in The Woodlands, Texas.
Chien, ranked No. 189 in the world entering the week, paced the field at the first major of the LPGA season, with the likes of Nelly Korda just behind at 4-under 68.
Chien started her round on the back nine of the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at The Club at Carlton Woods. She got her first two birdies to fall at Nos. 17 and 18 but hit a bump at the turn when she bogeyed the par-4 first hole.
Chien let that be the only blemish on her day. She poured in birdies at the par-5 fourth, par-4 fifth, par-4 sixth and par-5 eighth holes.
It’s the first time the Nicklaus-designed course in Texas is hosting the LPGA major that was formerly played at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
“I saw the pin sheet last night and I can’t sleep,” Chien said. “It feels so hard. We’re doing very well today, just focused on what I want, what we want and which way we can miss. I think we did very well today.”
Chien has never won an LPGA tournament and has just six career top-10 finishes, including a tie for fourth last week at the Lotte Championship.
Meanwhile, Korda had a busy day, carding seven birdies and three bogeys. She made a long uphill birdie putt at No. 5, and after bogeying No. 6, she punctuated her round with birdies at the eighth and ninth.
Tied with Korda for second at 4 under are Marina Alex, Lilia Vu, South Korea’s Chella Choi, Japan’s Ayaka Furue and Australia’s Stephanie Kyriacou.
Korda, the world No. 2, is searching for her second career major title.
“I took advantage of the par-5s today,” Korda said. “I think I birdied them all, so that was important, as I’m a bit of a longer hitter. Overall I played pretty well.”
Angel Yin is alone in eighth place at 3-under 69. A large tie for ninth at 2-under 70 features world No. 4 Minjee Lee of Australia, world No. 5 Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand and world No. 10 Georgia Hall of England.
Thai amateur Eila Galitsky, 16, also shot a 70, posting five birdies and three bogeys. She got into the field thanks to winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
Galitsky said she’s felt “just a little bit more pressure” since winning that championship, “but nobody expected a lot before, but now some more added pressure. I like it. I like playing under pressure.”
Among those in a large group at 1-under 71 are world No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand, world No. 7 Brooke M. Henderson of Canada, 2021 tournament winner Patty Tavatanakit of Thailand and 2022 Women’s British Open winner Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa.
Defending champion Jennifer Kupcho settled for an even-par 72, as did world No. 3 and 2019 champion Jin Young Ko of South Korea.
Lexi Thompson, whose only major title came at the 2014 edition of this event in California, struggled to a 2-over 74 and is in danger of missing the cut. The top 65 players plus ties will make the 36-hole cut after Friday’s round; Thompson is tied for 73rd.
The entire field finished the first round despite a dangerous-weather delay of 54 minutes during the afternoon.
–Field Level Media