April 4, 2019

Home favorite and former winner Lexi Thompson made a strong start to the ANA Inspiration with a three under par 69 in the first round to lead alongside Koreans Hyu Joo Kim and Jin Young Ko.

Starting early in cool, breezy conditions at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, Thompson bogeyed the second hole but recovered with two birdies on the front nine.

The 2014 champion dropped a shot at the par-four 16th but consecutive birdies on 17 and 18 – the latter thrilling the crowds after an approach to a foot – lifted her into a share of the lead.

“I made a lot of clutch putts on the back nine to save par,” said Thompson. “It was a little bit of an up and down day. I hit some great shots and then hit some poor ones off the tee. I made some great putts, which is always a big confidence booster for me.

“So I’m very happy with the way I just stayed strong the whole day and came out with three under, and especially ending with two birdies.”

Seven players finished on two under par, including American stars Cristie Kerr and Jessica Korda and the 2016 winner Lydia Ko.

Defending champion Pernilla Lindberg had three birdies on the back nine to sign for a one over par 73.

Japan’s Haru Nomura made a strong start to the afternoon session, posting three birdies in her first five holes.