DALY CITY, Calif. — Karine Icher and her caddie husband, Fred, evaluated the conditions and course at challenging Lake Merced and decided on a Day 1 strategy: stay short of the pin and putt uphill.
The move worked beautifully, and Icher delivered the most consistent performance on a day there weren’t many in the debut of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.
“I think it’s the key on this course,” Icher said. “It’s a tough golf course, especially with the wind and temperature. It gets so cold. You try to stay warm and try to catch the right wind and go with it and make some putts.”
The Frenchwoman birdied four of her first seven holes and finished with a 6-under 66 on Thursday to take the lead, two strokes ahead of Lydia Ko and several others. Afterward, Icher was off to pick up 2-year-old daughter, Lola, from the tour’s children’s care and head to dinner.
The start was delayed two hours because of fog and play was suspended because of darkness with 24 players still on the course.
Icher had a bogey-free round and hit all but one green in regulation. Many struggled off the tee or with their putters on speedy, tricky greens on a cool day with plenty of wind and hovering fog not far off the Pacific Ocean.
Morgan Pressel birdied four of her first eight holes and was among the players sitting three strokes back at 69.
Mo Martin also shot a 69 after warming up four times before finally hitting her first tee shot following the fog delay.
Honolulu’s Michelle Wie, coming off her first win in nearly four years last week, finished at even-par 72.
ZURICH CLASSIC: Ben Martin treated a tiny gallery to a course-record round, shooting a 10-under 62 in the first round in Avondale, La.
Martin’s 10th birdie was his most spectacular shot in a round full of them as he chipped in from 55 feet on the par-3 17th hole. That came a hole after the 26-year-old former Clemson player he hit the flag on a chip from behind the green, setting up a tap-in par.
The previous record at TPC Louisiana was a 64, accomplished many times, including once earlier Thursday, when Andrew Svoboda did it to take a lead that held up until Martin surged past late in the day.
Peter Hanson and Sueng-Yul Noh were tied for third at 65.