Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dueling eagles: Lewis, Jutanugarn match 64s

PHOENIX – Stacy Lewis and Ariya Jutanugarn practically left a trail of smoke in their wake Thursday at the Bank of Hope Founders Club.

They scorched Wildfire Golf Club in an impressive display of shot making while playing together in the first round.

Lewis and Jutanugarn both posted 8-under-par 64s to take a share of the first-round lead with In Gee Chun, Sandra Changkija and Katie Burnett.

They are a shot ahead of a pack of five players that includes 56-year-old Juli Inkster.

It was another birdiefest at Wildfire Golf Club, where Sei Young Kim equaled the LPGA’s 72-hole scoring record last year, matching Annika Sorenstam’s 27-under-par mark.

There were 10 scores of 65 or better in Thursday’s opening round, with 68 rounds in the 60s. A total of 103 players broke par.

Lewis loves the Founders Cup tradition, the way it honors the game’s pioneers. She also loves the course. She has a victory, two seconds and a T-4 finish in her last four starts here. It makes for a comfortable setting for Lewis to make a run at her 12th LPGA title, her first in 33 months, since she won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Lewis and Jutanugarn took turns knocking down flagsticks.

“We were all making putts,” Lewis said.

Lewis ignited a roar holing out from 136 yards for eagle at the ninth hole.

“The 9-iron was perfect in the air,” Lewis said. “Nice to see it go in.”

Jutanugarn eagled the 15th, drilling a 2-iron to 20 feet.

“So much fun,” Jutanugarn said of playing alongside Lewis.

They fed off each other.

“It’s always great playing with Ariya, because you know you’re going to get to see good golf and see putts go in,” Lewis said. “Some of the drives and 2-irons she hits are pretty amazing. I enjoy playing with her, and she’s a good kid, too.”

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