Stark & Meechai take two-shot lead in China

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Buick LPGA Shanghai 2023 R1
Posted on
October 12, 2023
The Editorial Team in ,
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In the LPGA Tour’s emphatic return to Shanghai, Sweden's Maja Stark and Thailand's Wichanee Meechai capitalized on sunny morning conditions to top the Buick LPGA Shanghai leaderboard after posting 6-under 66s. Both players hold the first-round co-lead for the first time in their Tour careers as they hold a two-stroke advantage over ten players in a tie for third at 4-under. Meechai may be making her debut in the event, but is no stranger to Qizhong GC, playing the course when she played on the CLPGA and when it hosted a Ladies European Tour event.

“I feel like Chinese now because I play on China Tour for three years and you have to speak Chinese and you have to get used to stuff, so it's like get used to stuff and feel like home,” said Meechai.

She had a slow start to the day, making pars on her seven opening holes before notching back-to-back eagles on Nos. 17 and 18, making it the 27th instance a player has done so since 1980. Despite bogeys on Nos. 1 and 4, Meechai rebounded with birdies on 3, 4, 7 and 8 to tie her lowest 18-hole score this season and her career-low opening-round score.

“It was just a chip-in, not a far chip from the 17. I mean, makable eagle, but the 18 hole, it was crazy,” said Meechai. “It was like I hit my 8-iron and I miss it a little bit -- I mean, it will cover but I thin it a little bit. So it just barely cover the bunker and then I was like, oh, it must be a good shot. A lot of people were like celebrate so I was like, okay, figure it out. It's hole-out. It's nice. It's just golf.”

After admitting to finding a newfound confidence following her debut Solheim Cup appearance in Spain this past September, Stark carded her first bogey-free round since March on the first day in Shanghai and in her first official Tour event since missing the cut at the Portland Classic. Stark notched early birdies on No. 11 and the par-5 13th after staring on the back nine, but kicked it into gear after the turn and closed with four more birdies in her last eight holes.

“I said to my caddie on the range [before the round], because I could not hit the ball, at all, I just thought, this is going to be interesting,” said Stark. “I told that to him and he said, well, you've hit the ball worse than this and you shot 6-under before, so went out and did that again.

among the ten players in a tie for third are local favorites Yu Liu, Danlin Cai and Shuying Li, as well as the two-time champion Danielle Kang of the USA. Liu’s 68 is her lowest 18-hole score since a first-round 67 at the Dana Open in July.

Kang credited her winning experience and course knowledge en route to a steady 68, which included three birdies in her first eight holes on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

“You just have to have ball striking really in play with wedges because there is a lot of tricky grass around the greens,” said Kang. “My caddie, Brian, really helped me stay in the moment. He's like, it's only Thursday. Stop looking at the leaderboard. We're going to end up where you need to end up.”

Pos.PlayerTo ParR1
T1Maja Stark-666
T1Wichanee Meechai-666
T3Danielle Kang-468
T3A Lim Kim-468
T3Yu Liu-468
T3Alison Lee-468
T3Lauren Coughlin-468
T3Esther Henseleit-468
T3Jasmine Suwannapura-468
T3Danlin Cai-468
T3Shuying Li-468
T3Pavarisa Yoktuan-468
T13Moriya Jutanugarn-369
T13Jaravee Boonchant-369
T13Yuna Nishimura-369
T13Mi Hyang Lee-369
T13Muni He-369
T18Minjee Lee-270
T18Xiyu Lin-270
T18Carlota Ciganda-270
T18Angel Yin-270
T18Minami Katsu-270
T18Azahara Munoz-270
T18Xizihan Wang (a)-270
T18Bailey Tardy-270
T18Weiwei Zhang-270
T27Ruoning Yin-171
T27Gabriella Then-171
T27Sei Young Kim-171
T27Frida Kinhult-171
T27Karis Davidson-171
T27Kelly Tan-171
T27Celine Borge-171
T27Madelene Sagstrom-171
T27Arpichaya Yubol-171
T27Miranda Wang-171
T37Lilia VuE72
T37Nasa HataokaE72
T37Maddie SzerykE72
T37Yan LiuE72
T37Ariya JutanugarnE72
T37Patty TavatanakitE72
T37Perrine DelacourE72
T37Peiyun ChienE72
T37Chanettee WannasaenE72
T37Hye-Jin ChoiE72
T37Gina KimE72
T37Andrea LeeE72
T37Xiang SuiE72
T37Mina HarigaeE72
T37Linnea StromE72
T37Xiaowen YinE72
T53Rose Zhang173
T53Grace Kim173
T53Lauren Hartlage173
T53Pajaree Anannarukarn173
T53Anna Nordqvist173
T53Morgane Metraux173
T53Ruixin Liu173
T60Matilda Castren274
T60Hae Ran Ryu274
T60Lydia Ko274
T60Emily Kristine Pedersen274
T60Olivia Cowan274
T60Lucy Li274
T60Stephanie Meadow274
T60Paula Reto274
T60Zixuan Wang (a)274
T69Dani Holmqvist375
T69Lindy Duncan375
T69Hinako Shibuno375
T69Yuting Shi375
T69Yuai Ji375
T74Wenbo Liu476
T74Yujie Liu (a)476
T74Zixin Ni (a)476
77Yuli Shi577
78Maria Fassi678
79Amy Wu (a)779
T80Yanhong Pan880
T80Emma Talley880
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Buick LPGA Shanghai 2023

Date: October 12th - 15th 2023

Location: Qizhong Garden Golf Club, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

Purse: $2,100,000

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