Lydia Ko is five shots off the pace after the opening round of the LPGA Tour's season finale in Florida.
Ko's three-under 69 looked solid on paper, but it came amidst an under-par scoring spree at the CME Group Tour Championship with 18 players at 67 or better.
It was a relatively quiet day for Ko, who cracked the top 10 in the all-time LPGA prizemoney list after finishing in a tie for second place at the Pelican Women's Championship last week. Four birdies and a lone bogey highlighted a consistent round that left her in a tie for 25th place on the leaderboard.
Meanwhile, last weekend's winner Nelly Korda delivered the round she needed with a 6-under 66 that left her two shots out off the pace and gave her a good start toward winning LPGA Tour player of the year.
Former US Women's Open champion Jeongeun Lee6 didn't make a birdie on rain-softened Tiburon Golf Club until the sixth hole, and then she didn't stop. She finished with three straight birdies for a round-leading 8-under 64.
Lee6 had a one-shot lead over four players, including past Tiburon winner Sei Young Kim.
The 60 players who qualified for the season finale have the same chance to win the $1.5 million prize, the largest in women's golf, regardless of their standing in the Race to CME Globe.
The more compelling race is the points-based award for LPGA player of the year, which is down to Korda and Jin Young Ko, each with four victories. Korda has a 10-point lead, meaning Young Ko would have to be runner-up to have a chance.
The South Korean star has some catching up to do after a 69 left her in a tie for 25th, especially with Korda looking as sharp as she has for so much of the year.
"I gave myself some good looks inside 10 feet," Korda said. "Two 'oopsies' with three-putts, but I think I hit the majority of the greens and gave myself some really good looks. ... Hopefully, I can carry it into the next three days."
Korda doesn't get distracted by much, and that includes a chance to be player of the year. She knows what's at stake. She was reminded again playing alongside Young Ko. And then she just went about her business, as always.
"I'm sure you guys are tired of hearing it, but I honestly don't think about it. When I say it, I honestly try not to think about it," she said. "I don't really look at the rankings like that. If you want to know my honest opinion, I look at the money list and that's all I look at."
Otherwise, everything is in front of her.
"We're here. Everyone has a chance to win $1.5 million. Everyone is playing good golf," Korda said.
"You need everything to be on your side to win, so I just tee it up and I just try to take it one shot at a time. As boring as it sounds, I like that game plan."
- with AP