Aditi Ashok shot a highly creditable 2-under 70 in demanding conditions at the Wildfire Golf Club in the opening round of the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. This has only been her second start on the LPGA this season, after missing the cut in her season-opener in Australian Women’s Open. She is placed Tied-17th and is three shots behind co-leaders, Frenchwoman Karine Icher and Chella Choi, who carded 67 each. Korea’s Inbee Park and Thai Ariya Jutanugarn shot 68 each to be Tied-3rd with four others.
Though the Wildfire course has yielded some low winning scores over the years, the wind really made scoring difficult. The wind and cooler conditions meant scores were higher than last year. Aditi, 19, attracted a lot of attention in her LPGA rookie season in 2017 as she finished 82nd in the Race to CME Globe standings of the LPGA Tour. She had to sit out limited field LPGA events in Thailand and Singapore before getting into the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
The hugely talented Indian golfer had five birdies against three bogeys in her 70. Aditi had a great start with birdies on first two holes, before she bogeyed the fourth. She made amends with a birdie on fifth and another came her way on ninth and she turned in 3-under 33 that included birdies on both Par-5s. On the back nine, dropped shots on 12th and 14th but birdied the 16th to finish at 70.
Icher did not let the unseasonably cool conditions bother her. She made five birdies over her first eight holes. She added birdies on 11 and 14 to get to 7-under. However, she faltered towards the end of her round as the wind picked up and made bogeys on 15 and 18. Icher playing on LPGA since 2003 has 45 career top 10 finishes, but no wins.
Late in the day, Chella Choi turned in a 67 to share the opening round lead. Choi started with four birdies in her first five holes and was bogey-free through 17 holes until a 3-putt at the last.