Szokol opens with 64, up 3 shots in Singapore

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SINGAPORE — Elizabeth Szokol shot an 8-under 64 for a three-stroke lead after the first round of the Women’s World Championship on Thursday.

Yuka Saso of Japan was second after a bogey-free 67, and a pack of six including Nelly Korda and former No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn carded 68s at Sentosa Golf Club.

Szokol shot 6 under on the front nine, including four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 fifth. Her only bogey came on the 10th hole, but she birdied Nos. 14, 16 and 18.

Szokol is returning from a back injury — a herniated disk — and said she took advantage of the soft conditions on the damp course.

“This is my first time playing here,” the American said. “And people had said usually it’s a bit firmer. But the rain definitely softened it up. So I could be a little bit more aggressive with some pins today.”

Saso won the 2021 U.S. Open as a teenager but has not won any titles since.

“Winning here on the LPGA is not easy,” she said. “So you just have to keep grinding and keep working and give yourself a chance.”

No. 1-ranked Lydia Ko and No. 4 Atthaya Thitikul both shot 70, and No. 3 Minjee Lee had a 72.

Korda’s sister, Jessica Korda, shot 76, and Brooke Henderson, who won the season-opening Tournament of Champions in January, had a 78.

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