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3rd April 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pressel leads ANA Inspiration

MorganPresselAll eyes are on Lydia Ko this week as she eyes becoming the youngest major champion in LPGA Tour history. But the current holder of that record, Morgan Pressel, may have something to say about Ko taking that from her just yet after firing a five-under-par 67 in the afternoon to storm into the lead in the first round of the ANA Inspiration.

Pressel became the youngest major champion at the age of 18 when she took the leap here into Poppie’s Pond in 2007 and is hoping to add another plaque to the Walk of Champions.

“I think every player dreams of having their name up on that wall, and the fact that mine is up there, it’s very, very special,” Pressel said. “I have so many great memories here, but I’d love to put it up there again.”

Pressel leads Japan’s Ai Miyazato by one shot and finished two clear of a quartet that includes 54-year old Juli Inkster, American Alison Walshe, South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu and recent Lalla Mereym Cup winner Gwladys Nocera.

South Africa’s Paula Reto leads the local challenge after an opening 73.

The Strand professional tied for 51st, finishing four strokes ahead of LPGA winner Lee-Anne Pace.

Although Pressel’s hoping to deter Ko this week, she said she’d be surprised if Ko didn’t break her record in one of the five shots she has at it this year.

Ko, for her part, was the talk of the golfing world in the morning wave for nearing a different record. Could the 17-year-old Ko tie Annika Sorenstam’s streak of 29 in a row? It looked in major doubt as she headed to the eighth tee – her 17th hole of the day – at even par, her streak of 28 subpar rounds in serious jeopardy.

If Ko has a greatest asset in a game seemingly free of weaknesses, it may be her mind.

The ability to completely ignore how absurd it is the things she’s accomplishing at 17. Again, she tuned out any of the outside noise and stiffed a 6-iron on the par-3 from 158 yards to two feet and tapped in for birdie. Just like that with a par on the ninth, she secured her 29th consecutive rounder under par, tying Annika on a day in which she got the tougher draw having to play in the morning wave.

“Today I was so busy trying to make up-and-downs, or trying to make a good two-putt or make some birdies, because I really wasn’t hitting my driver well, and here the rough can get pretty thick,” Ko said. “When you’re in that position a record was the last thing I was thinking about. But, yeah, Lexi [Thompson] and I made two really good birdies on 8, and I got back to under par.”

Copy and photograph courtesy of LPGA Tour Communications.