Mo Martin of Pasadena and UCLA posted a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 to tie Cristie Kerr and In Gee Chun of South Korea for the lead after one round of the Kia Classic at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.
The 34-year-old Martin birdied five of the first 10 holes and added another at No. 17.
“I had a ton of really good shots today, which I had been doing pretty much for the last year,” said Martin, whose only LPGA Tour victory came in the 2014 Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale. “Just had a really good putting day. I’ve been waiting for a good putting week, and I had a good putting day today. It was great.
“Coming out here on Monday it was like the grass is healthy and lush, which makes the fairways and the greens super nice. It also let’s the rough be a little bit thicker than we’ve seen it before. I like it. I love it when it’s playing tough. We had a couple Sunday pin placements out there today. It was a fun day.”
Kerr, who has 18 LPGA Tour victories including two majors, birdied three of the last six holes in her 66, while Chun, the 2015 Women’s U.S. Open champion, matched that by carding birdies on five of six holes through No. 17.
Alison Lee of Valencia and UCLA had four birdies in a span of five holes on the front nine and added another at No. 18 to shoot 68 and was tied for fourth with Karine Icher of France, Mirim Lee of South Korea, Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand, Marissa Steen and Hyo Joo Kim of South Korea.
Anna Nordqvist of Sweden, who captured the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last week, carded a 69 and was tied for 10th with Katie Burnett, Jackie Stoelting, Gerina Piller, Brittany Lincicome, Caroline Masson of Germany, Jessica Korda and Azahara Munoz of Spain.
Lizette Salas of Azusa and USC totaled 70 and was in a tie for 18th that included Juli Inkster of Los Altos and San Jose State, Beth Allen of San Diego and Cal State Northridge and Candie Kung of Fountain Valley and USC.