Kia Classic - R1

Chella Choi takes opening lead with 65

March 28-31
Aviara Golf Club, Carlsbad, California
$1,800,000
Round 2, Round 3, Round 4


South Korea’s Chella Choi birdied her last three holes on the way to a seven-under-par 65 on Thursday and a two-shot lead in the LGPA Kia Classic in Carlsbad, California.


Choi took a little while to warm up on a chilly morning at Aviara Golf Club, but she finished with seven birdies and no bogeys.

“My putter really helped me, so I really enjoyed it today,” said Choi, who won her lone LPGA Tour title at the 2015 Marathon Classic.

“I like this golf course,” Choi said. “I have really good memories here.

“The fairways are easy and the greens are small — If I hit the fairways and greens a lot of birdie chances out there.”

Stephanie Meadow made her Kia Classic debut with a bogey-free 67.

“Just hit a bunch fairways and a bunch of greens and rolled some putts in,” said Meadow, who finished the day in solo second. “Pretty stress-free golf, which is always nice.”

For the 27-year-old from Northern Ireland, it was doubly refreshing to finally be back in playing shape and on the LPGA Tour. In July 2017, Meadow suffered a stress fracture of the L5 vertebrae in her lower back, an injury that went misdiagnosed for 10 weeks. That season saw Meadow miss 14 of 17 cuts and after she failed to better her status at Q School, Meadow spent 2018 rehabilitating both her back and her game on the Symetra Tour. She returned to the LPGA Tour after finishing sixth in the 2018 Volvik Race for the Card, which awards LPGA status to the Symetra Tour’s top 10 money winners.

“It was definitely hard in the beginning. Obviously, it’s a different kind of feeling when you go to tournaments, so it was kind of swallow your pride,” said Meadow. “But you know what? There are some really awesome girls out there that are really good players. I kept saying to people, If you win on Symetra and you can Top 5 every week, you’re going to be able to compete out here, too. The Tour has gotten so much better in the last five years.”

Nine of the top 10 players in the world are in the field for the last tournament before the first major of the year — the ANA Inspiration.

Only sixth-ranked Nelly Korda is taking the week off.

It was déjà vu all over again for Cristie Kerr , who for the second year in a row witnessed an ace at Aviara’s par-3 14th. In 2018, Kerr watched as Eun-Hee Ji made a hole-in-one on Sunday to secure her third career LPGA Tour victory. This time, it was Kerr with the fireworks, rolling one in from 143 yards as this time Ji stood to the side and celebrated.

“It was just incredible, because Eun Hee, last year she won the tournament but also made a hole-in-one on that hole,” said Kerr, who won this tournament in 2015. “The odds of the two of us playing in the same group and her having won it and then me doing it, that was pretty cool.”

Kerr’s hole-in-one adds another $20,000 to the season-long CME Group Cares Challenge – Score 1 for St. Jude, which benefits St. Jude Children’s Hospital. The tally currently stands at $120,000, with an ace at every tournament except the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. Kerr finished the day tied for 90th at 2-over 74.

Player Notes

Rolex Rankings No. 78 Chella Choi (65)

Choi’s first-round 65 is her lowest round of the 2019 LPGA Tour season, besting the 68 she shot in the third round of last week’s Bank of Hope Founders Cup

She hit 13 of 14 greens and 17 of 18 fairways

Choi is in her 11th season on the LPGA Tour; she won the 2015 Marathon Classic presented by Owen Corning and O-I

This is Choi’s fifth event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is T34 at last week’s Bank of Hope Founders Cup

She is competing in her 10th Kia Classic; her best finish is fourth in 2014 and she has three other top-20 finishes

Rolex Rankings No. 310 Stephanie Meadow (67)

Meadow’s first-round 67 is tied for the second-lowest round of her LPGA Tour career; she shot 66 twice in 2016 and has four previous 67s, including in the second and third rounds of last week’s Bank of Hope Founders Cup

She hit 13 of 14 greens and 15 of 18 fairways

Meadow was a LPGA Tour rookie in 2015; after a stress fracture in her back derailed her career in mid-2017, she returned to the Symetra Tour for 2018, where she had one victory and regained her LPGA Tour card via the Volvik Race for the Card

This is Meadow’s fourth event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is T40 at last week’s Bank of Hope Founders Cup

She is competing in her first Kia Classic

Meadow won the LPGA Tour’s 2015 Heather Farr Perseverance Award in 2015; her father Robert was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer at the beginning of the season and Meadow left the Tour for three months to help care for him before his death in May 2015 

Quick Hits

25 players in the top 20 represent 12 different countries (Republic of Korea, Northern Ireland, Thailand, USA, Mexico, Colombia, China, Australia, Japan, Philippines, France and Canada)

Cristie Kerr wins a 2020 Kia Telluride for her hole-in-one on the par-4 No. 14, made with her 9-iron from 143 yards

Maddie McCrary withdrew during the first round, citing a wrist injury


Pos.
Player
To Par
R1
1
Chella Choi
-7
65
2
Stephanie Meadow
-5
67
T3
Thidapa Suwannapura
-4
68
T3
Ryann O’Toole
-4
68
T3
Sung Hyun Park
-4
68
T3
Ariya Jutanugarn
-4
68
T3
Gaby Lopez
-4
68
T3
Lindy Duncan
-4
68
T3
Mariajo Uribe
-4
68
T3
Sarah Schmelzel
-4
68
T3
Jing Yan
-4
68
T3
Sei Young Kim
-4
68
T3
Inbee Park
-4
68
T3
Jin Young Ko
-4
68
T3
Minjee Lee
-4
68
T3
Haru Nomura
-4
68
T3
Morgan Pressel
-4
68
T18
Nasa Hataoka
-3
69
T18
Eun-Hee Ji
-3
69
T18
Ayako Uehara
-3
69
T18
Clariss Guce
-3
69
T18
Mo Martin
-3
69
T18
Austin Ernst
-3
69
T18
Celine Boutier
-3
69
T18
Brooke M. Henderson
-3
69
T26
Pornanong Phatlum
-2
70
T26
Mel Reid
-2
70
T26
In-Kyung Kim
-2
70
T26
Azahara Munoz
-2
70
T26
Megan Khang
-2
70
T26
Hee Young Park
-2
70
T26
Haeji Kang
-2
70
T26
Tiffany Chan
-2
70
T26
Benyapa Niphatsophon
-2
70
T26
Lauren Stephenson
-2
70
T26
Linnea Strom
-2
70
T26
Hyo Joo Kim
-2
70
T26
In Gee Chun
-2
70
T26
Shanshan Feng
-2
70
T26
Nicole Broch Larsen
-2
70
T41
Kristen Gillman
-1
71
T41
Xiyu Lin
-1
71
T41
Moriya Jutanugarn
-1
71
T41
Lydia Ko
-1
71
T41
Stacy Lewis
-1
71
T41
Mi Hyang Lee
-1
71
T41
Wei-Ling Hsu
-1
71
T41
Yu Liu
-1
71
T41
Lee-Anne Pace
-1
71
T41
Jenny Shin
-1
71
T51
Daniela Darquea
E
72
T51
Jodi Ewart Shadoff
E
72
T51
Ally McDonald
E
72
T51
Bronte Law
E
72
T51
Catriona Matthew
E
72
T51
Brittany Altomare
E
72
T51
Peiyun Chien
E
72
T51
Sakura Yokomine
E
72
T51
Brittany Lang
E
72
T51
Alison Lee
E
72
T51
Dani Holmqvist
E
72
T51
Jane Park
E
72
T51
Jacqui Concolino
E
72
T51
Katherine Kirk
E
72
T51
Caroline Masson
E
72
T51
Anna Nordqvist
E
72
T51
Juli Inkster
E
72
T51
Danielle Kang
E
72
T51
Amy Yang
E
72
T51
Gerina Piller
E
72
T51
Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong
E
72
T51
Wichanee Meechai
E
72
T51
Christina Kim
E
72
T74
Alana Uriell
1
73
T74
Brianna Do
1
73
T74
So Yeon Ryu
1
73
T74
Carlota Ciganda
1
73
T74
Pernilla Lindberg
1
73
T74
Lexi Thompson
1
73
T74
Hannah Green
1
73
T74
Lauren Kim
1
73
T74
Anne van Dam
1
73
T74
Mirim Lee
1
73
T74
Jeongeun Lee6
1
73
T74
Na Yeon Choi
1
73
T74
Charlotte Thomas
1
73
T74
Sandra Gal
1
73
T74
Kendall Dye
1
73
T74
Klara Spilkova
1
73
T90
Dori Carter
2
74
T90
Emma Talley
2
74
T90
Amy Olson
2
74
T90
Cristie Kerr
2
74
T90
Marina Alex
2
74
T90
Mi Jung Hur
2
74
T90
Ashleigh Buhai
2
74
T90
Beatriz Recari
2
74
T90
Gemma Dryburgh
2
74
T90
Jenny Haglund
2
74
T90
Mariah Stackhouse
2
74
T90
Lizette Salas
2
74
T90
Mina Harigae
2
74
T103
Becca Huffer
3
75
T103
Jaclyn Lee
3
75
T103
Kim Kaufman
3
75
T103
Brittany Marchand
3
75
T103
Alena Sharp
3
75
T103
Kris Tamulis
3
75
T103
Mariel Galdiano (a)
3
75
T103
Marissa Steen
3
75
T103
Lilia Vu
3
75
T103
Dottie Ardina
3
75
T103
Annie Park
3
75
T103
Madelene Sagstrom
3
75
T103
Pavarisa Yoktuan
3
75
T116
Jaye Marie Green
4
76
T116
Ruixin Liu
4
76
T116
Jeong Eun Lee
4
76
T116
Karine Icher
4
76
T116
Tiffany Joh
4
76
T116
Lindsey Weaver
4
76
T116
Anne-Catherine Tanguay
4
76
T116
Angela Stanford
4
76
T116
Jennifer Song
4
76
T116
Maria Torres
4
76
T116
Joanna Klatten
4
76
T116
Su Oh
4
76
T128
Nanna Koerstz Madsen
5
77
T128
Katherine Perry
5
77
T128
Youngin Chun
5
77
T128
Laura Gonzalez Escallon
5
77
T128
Yani Tseng
5
77
T128
Elizabeth Szokol
5
77
T128
Brittany Lincicome
5
77
T135
Ji Hyun Oh
6
78
T135
Jackie Stoelting
6
78
T135
Celine Herbin
6
78
T135
Laura Davies
6
78
T135
Dana Finkelstein
6
78
140
Aditi Ashok
7
79
T141
Sarah Jane Smith
9
81
T141
Isi Gabsa
9
81
T141
Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras
9
81
WD
Maddie McCrary
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