So Yeon Ryu takes first-round lead at CP Canadian Women's Open

So Yeon Ryu of South Korea lines up her putt as fellow South Korean golfer Hee-Won Han watches from...

So Yeon Ryu of South Korea lines up her putt as fellow South Korean golfer Hee-Won Han watches from the edge of the 16th green during the first round of the Canadian Pacific Canadian Women's Open at the London Hunt and Country Club in London, Ont., on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. (Craig Glover/QMI Agency)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:41 PM ET

LONDON, ONT. - So Yeon Ryu couldn't recall the name of the London Korean-Japanese restaurant she dined at Wednesday night.

But based on the way she and her supper friends carved up the London Hunt Club in the opening round of the LPGA's $2.25 million CP Women's Open on Thursday, there's a good chance she'll be going back.

The 24-year-old fired a first-round tournament and competitive course record nine-under 63, one stroke better than fellow Korean Na Yeon Choi, who matched Angela Stanford's opening 64 here in 2006 and Canadian Dawn Coe-Jones' eight-under from 1993 on this same track.

“I saw (Na Yeon) shot eight-under (in the morning) and thought, 'Wow, she shot really great',” Ryu said. “I saw a course (that) would be really long to play and my goal was maybe three-under.

“When I was warming up, my shot was really bad. I had zero expectations I could do this.”

Maybe it was something she and Choi ate the night before at a pre-event good luck outing organized and paid for by Inbee Park, who stands at six-under.

Together, the International Crown teammates, who included other members of the tour's large Korean contingent in their meal, are a combined 23-under so far.

Sweden's Anna Nordqvist sits two shots back of the lead after a bogey-free round and Jennifer Kirby of Paris, Ont., was top Canadian with a five-under 67.

“We had a talk together to help us relax,” Ryu said. “Sometimes, when you're hanging out with really good friends, it can make you more relax and enjoy the golf. I really enjoyed my golf and that comes from great friendship.”

Choi said the low scores came “from all (of) Inbee's power we shared.”

Park, the five-time major winner coming off an LPGA Championship title last weekend, took care of the dinner bill because of the big cheque she just banked.

Ryu won the U.S. Women's Open in 2011, but has been in a drought the past few years. Same with Choi, the Open champ two years ago.

“(We're) in the same situation,” Ryu said. “We kind of talk about how can we get through this one. I realize I'm not the only (one going) through the hard time. That kind of conversation makes me more relieved.”

She wanted the chance to pay Park back for the free eats. This week is shaping up to be a high-scoring nail-biter with plenty of contenders.

“I'm glad to buy a dinner for them,” Ryu said. “I haven't won any tournaments the last two years so I've been waiting. I wish I can win this week.”

Park predicted it's going to take 20-under par to win it this week. Cristie Kerr, who is at five-under, won eight years ago here with 12-under 276.

Lydia Ko, the 17-year-old two-time defending event champ, is at minus-2.

“Actually, I was thinking like 15-under (would win), but after my score ... if I shoot eight-under, I think everyone could shoot like eight-under,” Choi said, “so we will see.”

Ryu has restored her confidence in her game here. Choi arrived on a mission to repair her chipping and putting. She was clearly miffed after last week's major result, in which she recorded 17 birdies over four rounds but still finished at even par.

This time, she made nine birdies, including a hot run of five straight holes, and chipped in three times along the way. The first two were from inside 10 yards and then came her magic on No. 5, a bunker shot from 25 yards to the pin.

Choi came in ranked a rather pedestrian 116th in sand saves on tour.

“I think that hole (No. 5) is the hardest on this course,” said the LPGA's leading money winner four years ago. “I couldn't really see the ball go in. My coach (Robin Symes) came (Sunday) and spent at least five hours around the greens, then like 50-100 shots. I had a lot of good distance control shots. It (wedge play) is still really important and I just realized my short game wasn't great, especially last week.

“I spent so much time, I think it's paid off.”

Now, they're hungry to return Park's food favour.

It's quite clear London and the Hunt Club agrees with the Koreans pretty well these days.

THE CANUCKS

Canadian results through the first round of the $2.25 million CP Women's Open at the par-72 London Hunt and Country Club:

Jennifer Kirby, Paris, Ont., 67

Brooke Henderson, Smiths Falls, Ont., 70

Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Toronto 70

Sara-Maude Juneau, Fossambault-sur-le-Lac, Que., 70

Elizabeth Tong, Thornhill, Ont., 70

Sue Kim, Langley, B.C., 71

Jennifer Ha, Calgary 72

Alena Sharp, Hamilton, Ont., 72

Lorie Kane, Charlottetown 73

Erica Rivard, Tecumseh, Ont., 73

Maude-Aimee Leblanc, Sherbrooke, Que., 73

Nicole Vandermade, Brantford, Ont., 74

Samantha Richdale, Kelowna, B.C., 74

Jessica Wallace, Langley, B.C., 75

Natalie Gleadall, Stratford, Ont., 75


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