Lydia Ko remains in contention in Carlsbad as Inbee Park claims lead

Chella Choi of South Korea plays her shot from the 12th tee during the first round of the Kia Classic LPGA golf tournament Thursday

Chella Choi of South Korea plays her shot from the 12th tee during the first round of the Kia Classic LPGA golf tournament Thursday

Her sparkling effort left her tied with world number one Park Sung-Hyun (71) on 205 - a stroke behind Thailand's Thidapa Suwannapura.

Winless in 12 months, the seven-time major champion from South Korea had a one-stroke advantage over Nasa Hataoka after a low-scoring day in flawless conditions at Aviara Golf Club. The Singapore victor last month, she also had a share of the second-round lead last week in Phoenix in the Founders Cup before fading.

"I holed some good putts, especially on the back nine".

Nine of the top 10 players in the world are in the field for the last tournament before the first major of the year - the ANA Inspiration.

Among the other Thai golfers who made the cut, Ariya is at 4 under par after two rounds, while sister Moriya Jutanugarn and Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong are another two strokes back.

"Those greens are not that easy", Suwannapura said.

Inbee Park and first-round leader Chella Choi were a stroke back.

"I like this golf course", Choi said. "My putter really worked well". "Just hit a bunch of fairways and a bunch of greens and rolled some putts in, so pretty stress-free golf". It has been like that actually this year.

"I felt like I had a really great rhythm", Kim said.

Choi rallied after bogeying two of the first five holes.

Chella Choi of South Korea gestures as she walks the 12th fairway during the first round of the Kia Classic LPGA golf tournament Thursday

"I forgot about the bogey very quickly", she said.

Australian Minjee Lee, the 2017 victor, carded a 69 to head a group on 137 that also included Colombia's Mariajo Uribe (69), Spain's Azahara Munoz (68) and Mexico's Gaby Lopez (70). Uribe also shot 69.

Azahara Munoz (68) and Gaby Lopez (70) were 6 under.

Lewis is making her third start since the birth of daughter Chesnee in late October.

Park Sung-hyun won last month in Singapore and Ko is coming off a victory on Sunday in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, Arizona.

"I have my mom here as help", Lewis said.

"The golf course was a lot softer than I thought it was going to be, " Lewis said. Didn't hit a good drive on 9 and made bogey.

Defending champion Ji Eun-hee headed another big group on 69.

Lexi Thompson was even par, following her opening 73 with a 71.

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