Powerful scent of Jasmine at Maybank Championship

KUALA LUMPUR: Thailand's Jasmine Suwannapura fired a magnificent nine-under-par 63 to take the opening round lead at the weather-hit Maybank Championship today.

More than four hours were lost due to the threat of storms, but all 77 players managed to complete their play at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club before the light faded.

Australia's Hannah Green was just one shot behind after carding a 64, while a group of five, including promising American rookie Rose Zhang, were tied for third with scores of 65.

Natasha Andrea Oon carded a commendable 70, making her the best-placed Malaysian, tied for 40th position.

However, the day clearly belonged to 30-year-old Jasmine, who positioned herself early on for a run at her third LPGA Tour title, backed by impressive stats where she flawlessly hit all 14 fairways and missed just two greens in regulation.

She kept bogeys at bay, soaring with an eagle on the par-four 14th and notching seven birdies in total — marking her personal best 18-hole score of the season.

Jasmine was particularly pleased with her effort, especially given her unfamiliarity with the West Course of the KLGCC. "The first couple holes I try to play kind of a little safe, because I only play six holes for the practice round and get to walk on the back nine and pro-am day on the cart path, so I don't really know the course," said Jasmine.

"We've been playing the other course back when we played Sime Darby (in 2017, held at the East Course). "But everything suited my eye and I hit a good, straight shot. I had a lot of opportunities to hit the pin and make some good putts today."

Natasha certainly enjoyed one of the best days of her fledgling one-year professional career as she played alongside New Zealand's 19-time LPGA Tour winner, Lydia Ko, and Green. She did not disappoint the home crowd, carding four birdies offset by two bogeys.

"I played with Lydia and Hannah today who I really looked up to being in college golf, growing up, junior golf. I really idolised Lydia, so that was kind of surreal for me," said Natasha. "Just teeing off in my home country and having a lot of support and everybody cheering me on, it was kind of surreal.

Felt like a celebrity, so that was really nice. I had a good time." Maybank ambassador Kelly Tan celebrated her 30th birthday by posting a solid 71 to be tied for 52nd. "I don't really get to celebrate my birthday too much at home because I've been playing on the road on the LPGA Tour," said Kelly.

"Now that Maybank Championship is on the schedule, and just because it falls on my birthday week, I think that's very, very special."

Leading first round scores:63: Jasmine Suwannapura (Tha);64: Hannah Green (Aus);65: Linn Grant (Swe). Rose Zhang (US), Chien Pei Yun (Tai), Gina Kim (US), Grace Kim (Aus);66: Ayaka Furue (Jpn), Atthaya Thitikul (Tha), Gaby Lopez (Mex), Emily Kristine Pedersen (Den);67: Aditi Ashok (Ind), Yuka Saso (Jpn), Megan Khang (US), Gemma Dryburgh (Sco);Selected Malaysians70: Natasha Andrea Oon;71: Kelly Tan;72: Ashley Lau Jeneath Wong (am);74: Alyaa Abdulghany, Ng Jing Xuen (am).

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