Ko’s 66 ties for LPGA lead

Top-ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand shot 6-under-par 66 and was tied for the lead with rookie Sophia Popov of Germany, Tiffany Joh and Kim Kaufman after the first round of the JTBC Founders Cup at Marriott Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix.

The 17-year-old Ko, who has captured the Women’s Australian Open and the New Zealand Women’s Open this year, collected six birdies and had her only bogey on the seventh hole.

“Shooting 66 is a great way to start this tournament,” said Ko, who has six LPGA Tour victories among her 10 professional titles. “But I left a couple putts short right in the gut and also had a three-putt.

“I’ve played well the least few weeks, but you never know what’s going to happen. You’ve got to keep your concentration because things can change from the front nine to the back. You have to play it one shot at a time.”

Popov, who played at USC, made five birdies on the front nine in her bogey-free round, while Joh, of UCLA, also played bogey-free and holed a seven-foot putt on the final hole to save par. Kaufman birdied three of the last four holes in her 66.

Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand and In Gee Chun of South Korea posted 67s and were tied for fifth with Dewi Claire Schreefel of the Netherlands and USC, who was at 5-under through 10 holes when play was halted by darkness.

There was a four-hour delay at the start of play after an inch of rain fell overnight.

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