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Masson leads North Texas LPGA with opening 64

The SportsXchange

IRVING, Texas -- Two Europeans shot their way to the top of the leaderboard in the first round of the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout at Las Colinas Country Club on Thursday.

Caroline Masson of Germany fired a 7-under-par 64 to take the opening-round lead and Carlota Ciganda of Spain was second, two shots back after a 66.

Masson, an LPGA rookie, played a bogey-free round. She birdied three holes in a row between the eighth and 10th and closed strong by birdieing No. 18.

"I started with a birdie on No. 10 and it calmed me down a little bit," Masson said. "I was very focused out there and hit a lot of good shots. I missed just one green and made a pretty good putt there to save par and it just started from there."

Masson, who has missed four cuts this season, said she needs to improve her patience in order to be successful through the weekend.

"So far, I am not really happy with this season," Masson said. "I felt like that there is a good round in me and I just needed to be patient. That is what I did, so I am very happy that I could pull up such a good round."

Masson hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and found herself in the sand just once.

Ciganda, the 2012 Rolex Rookie of the Year on the European Tour, started out hot. She moved to 4 under after back-to-back birdies on No. 18 and No. 1 -- she began play on No. 10 -- before dropping a shot on the par-4 second. She moved back to the top with birdies on the fifth, sixth and seventh holes. However, she bogeyed No. 8 and fell back to 5 under.

American Mo Martin made an early charge during her opening nine holes. She sank back-to-back birdie putts twice and added a birdie on No. 5 to finish in a tie for third with a 67.

Inbee Park, No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, was tied for third with Martin. Park opened with three birdies in the first nine holes before starting the back nine with two birdies.

Joining Martin and Park at 4 under was Felicity Johnson of England, who capped her day with a birdie on No. 18, American Kristy McPherson and Mi Jung Hur.

An unfamiliar name also appeared on the leaderboard. High school sophomore Taylor Coleman, an amateur qualifier, posted a 3-under 68 and was in a tie for eighth. The 16-year-old overcame an opening bogey before shooting 4 under on the back nine.

"I played pretty consistent," Coleman said. "I was just trying to go out there and smile. I didn't want to look up at the scoreboards. After a rough first hole, I was able to make a few birdies on the back nine and I lost my nerves and just had fun out there."

She qualified for the event after finishing second in the Texas High School Shootout on Monday. The previous week, Coleman played two rounds in the regionals of the Texas High School 5A State Tournament.

"It's easier knowing that I played well on the first day," Coleman said of what she thinks her nerves will be like Friday. "I am not going to be as worried about it as much."

Coleman's opening round featured a 30-foot putt from the edge of the 14th green among four birdies on the back nine.

NOTES: The LPGA returned to North Texas for the first time in 22 years. The last time the tour made a stop in the Dallas-Fort Worth area was in 1991 at the U.S. Women's Open at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. ... The North Texas Shootout features two cuts, the first after the second round taking the top 70 and ties, and the second after the third round with the top 50 and ties advancing to Sunday. ... Michelle Wie appeared to have an under-par round heading into the final hole. However, Wie hit her drive into the rough and a miss-hit third shot found itself short of the green. Wie missed her par putt by inches, leaving the ball past the hole.
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