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Two-time LPGA Tour champion Mi Hyang Lee and second-year LPGA member Lauren Stephenson share the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer first round lead in Galloway, New Jersey, after each shot 8-under-par 63 on the Bay Course at Seaview, A Dolce Hotel. Sitting one shot back on seven-under is the duo of Nasa Hataoka and Ryann O’Toole. Stephenson held the clubhouse lead following her performance out of the morning wave. It included an eagle at the par four 14th hole where she holed from 137 yards with a pitching wedge. The University of Alabama alumna also added eight birdies to her scorecard. “I was in the rough and assumed it was going to skip forward,” said Stephenson, who competed in the IOA Classic last week on the Symetra Tour to prep for her eighth LPGA Tour start this season.
“I saw the bounce and thought it stopped, which I was happy with because I was worried it was going to skip through the green and go over. I looked away and my caddie was like, ‘I think it went in.’ I didn’t want to get excited then it was over the green, but yeah, it was exciting.”
Lee recorded a bogey-free round in the afternoon to join Stephenson at the top of the leaderboard. A key part of Lee’s game was her playing of the four par-3 holes, which she covered in a combined 3-under.
“It was a really good start for me, and I really look forward to the next three rounds,” Lee said after eight birdies on the Bay Course. “I didn’t have any bad shots or bad putts, everything was good.
It’s a little wet and the greens are really soft, so it was easier to hit the long clubs in. I have experience tied for a lead in the first round before and need to concentrate on my golf then just keep going.”
Sitting in sole ownership of fifth position is Jennifer Song thanks to a bogey-free, 6-under-par 65. A total of six players sit at -5 including three-time LPGA winner Katherine Kirk, 2019 Symetra Tour graduate and 2020 LPGA rookie Patty Tavatanakit, and Jenny Shin, a ROLEX First-Time Winner in 2016.
Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened her ShopRite LPGA Classic title defence with a four-under-par 67 thanks to a round that included five birdies. She is joined by nine other players in a share of twelfth place, including most recent LPGA winner at the Cambia Portland Classic, England’s Georgia Hall.
Solheim Cup Team USA player, Brittany Altomare made the eighth hole-in-one of the 2020 LPGA Tour season, finding the bottom of the cup on No. 17 with a pitching wedge from 108 yards.
“It hit the pin pretty hard and in my experience when it does that, the ball could go anywhere—hits the pin and just ricochets,” said Altomare, who carded a bogey-free, 6-under par 28 on her opening nine which included the ace. “I heard it and think I was a little shocked. It made a loud noise then just dunked in. When that happens, it’s so unexpected but is always a nice surprise.”
For that ace, CME Group will donate $20,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The 2020 season has now seen eight aces for a total of $160,000 donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“It is awesome that the CME [Group] does that,” Altomare said. “I think last year they donated a lot of money, which is pretty cool. I’m just happy that I could contribute in some way to a great cause.”