Lydia Ko appears to have put her recent form struggles behind her after shooting a three-under 69 in the first round of the LPGA Tour’s Mizuho Americas Open in New Jersey.
Ko recently lost her world No 1 ranking after missing the cut at the year’s first major, the Chevron Championship, in April.
But the 26-year-old looked back to her old self at Liberty National Golf Course in an event which seeks to showcase the next generation of LPGA Tour players.
In a field featuring 24 of the top-ranked junior girls on the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Tour, Ko hit an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys to get round in 69 strokes and sit in a seven-way tie for fifth on a congested leaderboard.
Lydia Ko lines up a putt on the 18th green during the opening round at Liberty National Golf Course.
American Lauren Hartlage is the clubhouse leader after a blemish-free seven-under 65, two shots clear of rising Indian star Aditi Ashok.
Thailand’s Atthaya Thitkul and Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow sit one shot further back on four-under.
Starting her round on the back nine, Ko made the perfect start by birdieing the par-5 10th, only to drop a shot on the very next hole. A run of six consecutive pars followed before the New Zealander got back on track with the second birdie of her round on the 18th pin.
Ko made up more ground on the early pacesetters when she shot an eagle on the par-four third, and another birdie on the sixth briefly moved her to four-under and a share of third.
But Ko dropped another shot on the seventh before finishing with consecutive pars to cap off a satisfactory day and leave her firmly in contention heading into the second round.
Things don’t look quite so promising for Ko’s compatriot Ryan Fox, who shot his worst round on the PGA Tour this year to leave him in danger of missing his second cut of the season at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio.