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Kirk opens strong in Hawaii

Katherine Kirk has made a strong start at the LPGA's Lotte Championship in Hawaii (Photo: Henry Peters)
Queensland’s Katherine Kirk sits inside the top 10 on a logjammed leaderboard after round one of the LPGA’s Lotte Championship in Hawaii.

A bogey free 68, which came courtesy of matching nines of 2-under, has Kirk two behind joint leaders Paula creamer of America and Korea’s Mi Hyang Lee at the Ko Olina course on Oahu.

A total of 16 players are within two shots of the lead with two groups yet to complete their opening rounds following a weather delay Thursday.

Kirk is one of four Australians in the field and the only one under par with defending champion Minjee Lee battling to an opening 1-over 73 to be T86 while Sarah Jane Smith is 2-over (T106) and Su Oh plus three (T119).

World Number One Lydia Ko continued her struggle to find form in 2017 and signed for a 1-over 73 with three bogeys and two birdies in her round.

Ko is playing the opening two days with World Number Two So Yeon Ryu and Number Three Ariya Jutanugarn.

Ryu continued the form that saw her claim a second major title two weeks ago at the ANA Inspiration to post a bogey free 68 while Juatnugarn recovered from a pedestrian start to make three straight back nine birdies on her way to a 69 and T17.

At the top of the leaderboard Creamer credited a change in putting style for her best round in 12 months which included seven birdies against a lone bogey.

“I putted really well,” she told LPGA.com after her round.

“I switched back to conventional-style putting. I’ve been left-hand-low for the last three years.

“I hit the ball really well at the ANA (Inspiration) and Kia (Classic), I just couldn’t make any putts.

“We talked about how many times I won conventional and how many times have I won left-hand-low and the difference was astronomical.”