Simone Asia Pacific Cup: South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu leads the way at inaugural event in Indonesia
- The 32-year-old reels off seven birdies in a flawless round at the Pondok Indah Golf Course in Jakarta
- ‘To be honest, I was quite nervous this morning because I haven’t represented my country for a while,’ says two-time major winner Ryu
South Korea’s seasoned campaigner So Yeon Ryu fired a seven-under-par 65 to seize a one-shot lead after the opening round of the inaugural Simone Asia Pacific Cup in Indonesia on Thursday.
The 32-year-old reeled off seven birdies in a flawless round at the Pondok Indah Golf Course in Jakarta.
World No 4 Lydia Ko of New Zealand – the highest-ranked player among the 44 competitors in the field – left it late with a glorious birdie-eagle finish for a bogey-free 66 to join Philippines’ Princess Mary Superal in second spot.
Another South Korean Bo Mee Lee ended the opening day in outright fourth place, two off the pace after trading five birdies against a lone bogey on the par-three fifth.
Thailand’s Patcharajutar Kongkraphan, the 2012 Indonesian Ladies Open champion, also enjoyed a solid start by carding a 70 to share fifth with Japan’s Kokona Sakurai.
Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan was 13th after a one-over-par 73, with amateur Ginnie Ding in 32nd place following her 78.
Ryu and Lee’s combined individual brilliance, which yielded a blistering 12-under-par total, also inspired Team Korea 2 to a whopping nine-shot lead over Team Japan 2 comprising of Sakurai and Maria Shinohara (71) and Team Philippines made up of Princess and Pauline Del Rosario (73).
“To be honest, I was quite nervous this morning because I haven’t represented my country for a while,” said two-time major winner Ryu.
“I paired up with Bo Mee Lee, who’s one of my good friends and I had a lot of fun playing with her and this helped me to relax.
“My putting was pretty great today and I’m always happy with a bogey-free round.
“At the back nine, the wind started to pick up. It was swirling and made it hard to read the wind direction. That’s the reason why it was tough to create any birdie chances. But my putting was good enough to make a couple of birdies out there.
“I hope I can play like this tomorrow and also Saturday. But it’s golf, you’ll never know what’s going to happen. I’m just going to give my best and enjoy this beautiful gold course as much as possible.”
Ko, meanwhile, had a modest start on the front nine after she could only pick up a birdie.
But with the help of Indonesian rising star Jonathan Wijono, who is caddying for her this week, the 17-time LPGA Tour winner was able to turn things around on the back nine.
Jonathan had recently finished a creditable tied-34th at the Indonesia Open a fortnight ago.
“Jojo’s [Jonathan] great, he’s a member of the Indonesian national team. He’s super talented and just came off a tournament recently and played really well,” said Ko, who is placed fourth on the team leader board with fellow Kiwi Momoka Kobori (76).
“It’s great to have his advice even though my regular caddie is not here. He obviously knows this course very well. He has got a lot of knowledge and has been super helpful, especially on this kind of grass. I was able to learn from him.
“Overall, I hit the ball pretty consistently, I gave myself a lot of good looks. There were few putts that I felt I could have holed, but they didn’t end up falling.”
Princess was delighted to return to the scene where she bagged a junior title back in 2015 and produced another fine display to give the more established stars a run for their money.
“I have fond memories of this course and am happy to be back here,” said Princess.
“I hit my irons very well, my putting was also very good which led to this good score. For the next two days, I just have to focus on my own game and do what I have to do.”
World No 8 Hyo Joo Kim could only muster an opening 72 to sit in a four-way tie for 10th.