Israel's Laetitia Beck took advantage of relatively calm early conditions before the wind strengthened to surge into a two-shot lead in Thursday's opening round of the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in Prattville, Alabama.
The 24-year-old, the first golfer from Israel to qualify for the LPGA Tour, piled up seven birdies in a bogey-free display to fire a seven-under-par 65 on the Senator Course at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.That left her two strokes clear of American rookie Annie Park and Australia's Minjee Lee, with Mexico's Alejandra Llaneza a further shot back after carding a six-birdie 68.
Morgan Pressel, who won her first major title at the 2007 ANA Inspiration, opened with a 69 while fellow American Stacy Lewis, the world number four and the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic champion in 2012, returned a 71.
Beck, who has never recorded a top-10 finish on the LPGA Tour and has missed six cuts in eight starts this season, was delighted to be rewarded for a lot of recent hard work.
"I was doing well and making putts, even though I did miss some birdie opportunities," Beck told reporters after totaling only 26 putts. "But I made good putts for birdies and just kept going.
"I have been working on my swing in the past month or so. Struggled a bit after Australia but last week my game started feeling better," the Israeli, whose best finish this season was a tie for 27th at the Kia Classic in March, told lpga.com.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>