(Reuters) – Taiwan’s Peiyun Chien seized early control of the year’s first women’s major on Thursday, carding a five-under 67 to grab the first-round clubhouse lead at the Chevron Championship and grabbing the spotlight from the sport’s big names.
The world’s 189th-ranked player, Chien mixed six birdies with a single bogey at the Jack Nicklaus designed The Club at Carlton Woods near Houston to lead Americans Marina Alex, who shot 68, and Angel Yin another stroke back on 69.
“I saw the pin sheet last night, and I can’t sleep,” said Chien, who came to the major off her best result of the season, a tie for fourth at last week’s LOTTE Championship. “It feels so hard. I think we did very well today.”
With the Chevron moving to The Club at Carlton Woods after calling the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California home for 51 years, the nine past champions in the field, including world number one Lydia Ko and 2022 winner and Jennifer Kupcho had no home field advantage.
Ko had a roller coaster round including four birdies and three bogeys which left the New Zealander on one-under 71 alongside Canada’s twice major winner Brook Henderson.
Chien certainly found the move to Texas to her liking.
Playing the back nine first, she made the turn at two-under before making her only bogey of the day at the first.
But that would be the 32-year-old’s only stumble as she recovered in style to card four birdies over her final six holes and top the leaderboard as the afternoon wave headed out.
Kupcho, world number two and Olympic gold medallist Nelly Korda, U.S. Open champion Minjee Lee of Australia and British Open winner Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa were among the late starters.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)