Playing on a medical exemption, Elizabeth Szokol runs away with early LPGA lead at HSBC Women’s World Championship

It was the Elizabeth Szokol show on Thursday at the HSBC Women’s World Championship.

The 28-year-old set the pace in the first round with a blistering 8-under 64 at the Tanjong Course at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore. Starting on the back nine, Szokol made her lone bogey of the day on No. 10 but got back on track with birdies on Nos. 14, 16 and 18. The Northwestern and Virginia product kept the momentum with another birdie on No. 1 before catching fire to close out her round. Szokol, playing this week on a medical exemption after dealing with a herniated disc in her back, eagled the par-5 5th hole and proceeded to make birdies on Nos. 6, 8 and 9 to sign for the lowest score of her professional career.

“Yeah, after that bogey, I just kind of focused on making birdies and made a few longer putts, and then got a little more comfortable and started hitting some good iron shots in and had some closer looks,” she said after the round. “So it was a fun day.”

Yuka Saso, winner of the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open, is in close pursuit and just three shots back after a 5-under 67 on Thursday. Of the six players sitting T-3 at 4 under, five are major champions: Nelly Korda, Ariya Jutanugarn, Patty Tavatanakit, Jeongeun Lee6 and Hyo Joo Kim. World No. 1 Lydia Ko sits T-14 at 2 under, while defending champion Jin Young Ko is T-36 at even par.

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Story originally appeared on GolfWeek