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Johnson Starts Off Hot with 62 in ShopRite LPGA Classic


Jennifer Johnson carded a course-record-tying 9-under 62 to take the first-round lead in the ShopRite LPGA Classic. The $1.5 million, 54-hole event got underway Friday on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway, N.J.

The 22-year-old Johnson opened with four birdies and a bogey on the front nine to make the turn in 3-under 34. On the par-34 back, the Arizona State graduate got downright torrid with six birdies for a 28.

One stroke back after her eight-birdie 63 is Japan's Haru Nomura, while two behind is Christina Kim. A pair of South Koreans - Na Yeon Choi and Inbee Park - posted 66s to share fourth.

After missing a rare cut for her in last week's Airbus LPGA Classic in Alabama, Park was happy with her performance Thursday. "It was a very good round today," said Park, the No. 1-ranked player in women's golf.

"Obviously, I wasn't really confident after last week's cut, so today I really tried to really work on something that I really needed to work on, something that didn't work last week. Looks like the new tweaks are working really well.

"And it feels like I hadn't had a good putting day in a while. And yeah, it was a good putting day. And that's what I like the most about and I'll try to get the ball-striking going for the next two days. I think I'll be good."

Tied for sixth following 67s are South Korean Chella Choi, Germany's Sandra Gal, Australia's Sarah Kemp, Canada's Jennifer Kirby, and Americans Stacy Lewis, Laura Diaz, Brittany Lincicome, Gerina Piller and Michelle Wie. Lewis ranks No. 2 in the world.

Wie, who had five birdies and a bogey, said she could have gone lower but didn't take advantage of the three par-5s on the Bay Course, with only one birdie on them, and that was on the 18th hole. "Going into this golf course, I always want to take advantage of the par 5s on the front nine, but didn't quite do that today.

"Just keeping it in the right places, not getting too greedy and just kind of staying below the hole and just the normal stuff really."

Defending champion Karrie Webb of Australia opened with a 2-under 69, the same score as - among others - reigning Kraft Nabisco champion Lexi Thompson.

The winner last week in Alabama, Jessica Korda, recorded an even-par 71. No. 3 Lydia Ko was among many players who opened with a 68.

For all the scores, visit www.lpga.com.