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June 23, 2017

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Matthew tops LPGA leaderboard ahead of Hull

MOBILE, Alabama -- Scotland's Catriona Matthew shook off an early bogey to fire an eight-under par 64 on Thursday and take a one-stroke lead over England's Charley Hull at the Airbus LPGA Classic.

Matthew teed off on the back nine on Magnolia Grove's Crossings Course, and was in trouble with a bogey at the par-four 12th.

She responded with an eagle on the par-five 13th, and surged to the lead with four birdies in a row at 17, 18, one and two. She added three more birdies before she was done, to keep her nose in front of Hull, who is playing on a sponsor's invitation and had seven birdies in her bogey-free 65.

"Obviously (I'm) really pleased," Matthew said. "Just had two weeks at home so never quite know what you're going to come out and play like. So — delighted. Got the putter going and holed some putts, which is nice."

Matthew said bouncing back from her bogey was key.

"I think that was very important. Obviously the scoring I could see was pretty low. Holed a nice shot from the bunker at 13, the par-five, for eagle, so that kind of kick started my round," she said.

A group of three players, Norway's Suzann Pettersen, 2012 winner Stacy Lewis and South Korea's Ji Eun-Hee shared third place on 66.

Hall of Famer Pak Se-Ri headlined a group on 67 that also included fellow South Korean Jenny Shin, Paraguay's Julieta Granada and America's Jessica Korda, Nicole Castrale and Moira Dunn.

Hull, among the later starters, seized second with back-to-back birdies at 17 and 18.

Hull's score was her best on the LPGA Tour, and she said she'd try to just keep doing the same thing all week.

"Just keep hitting greens, fairways, holing a few putts," Hull said. "Not thinking about the moment, just one shot at a time, just trying to post another low score like today and just let the putts drop."

Lewis, who teed off on 10, picked up her first birdie at the 11th. She birdied four straight from the 15th and added two more at the fifth and sixth before her only bogey of the day at the seventh.

She said getting off to a good start was crucial.

"It's huge," Lewis said. "The scores are so low that if you don't go pretty low the first day, you're kind of behind the eight ball, so especially I think when you have an early tee time because then you come back tomorrow afternoon and you're just way behind.

"To make seven birdies in the first round here is always a good thing."

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