July 21, 2017 / 3:00 AM / 5 months ago

U.S. Women's Open champion Park continues sublime form

(The Sports Xchange) - Gerina Piller shot an eight-under 63 to take a one-stroke lead over red-hot U.S. Women’s Open champion Park Sung-hyun of South Korea and Peiyun Chien of Taiwan after Thursday’s opening round in the Marathon Classic.

March 30, 2017; Rancho Mirage, CA, USA; Gerina Piller hits from the second course tee box during the first round of the ANA Inspiration golf tournament at Mission Hills CC-Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Park, the 23-year-old LPGA Tour rookie who won her first major title last week at Trump National in New Jersey, continued her sublime form with seven birdies in a bogey-free round at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio.

“My feeling today was so awesome,” the long-hitting Park said. “It was a good start after the major championship winning ... I need to focus more on the Marathon Classic and want to keep my happiness behind from now on.”

Park is trying to become the first person to win the U.S. Women’s Open and the following event since Meg Mallon in 2004.

Piller, whose best finish of 2017 was a solo fourth at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, made nine birdies and just one bogey Thursday

“I birdied my first three holes and any time you can start off three in a row, it’s pretty good,” Piller said.

The 32-year-old American, who has never won on the LPGA Tour, started her day with four birdies in her first five holes.

Chien’s first-round 64 is the lowest round of her LPGA career, besting the second-round 66 she shot at the 2017 Kia Classic.

Aditi Ashok of India, Kim In-kyung of South Korea, and Kelly Shon were two shots back.

In the opening round of her title defense, former world number one Lydia Ko of New Zealand registered two successive bogeys on the back nine to finish with a 73, 10 shots off the lead.

Editing by Larry Fine

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