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Johnson's 10 birdies skyrocket her into the lead at ShopRite LPGA Classic

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, New Jersey--Jennifer Johnson matched the course record with a 9-under 62 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The 22-year-old Johnson, the winner last year in Mobile, Alabama, had 10 birdies — five straight on Nos. 9-13 — and a bogey on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.

“I've been playing well the past few weeks, so I felt pretty good about my game,” Johnson said. “If you just let it happen and just let a good round come together, normally it does.”

Haru Nomura had a bogey-free 63, and Christina Kim opened with a 64.

Top-ranked Inbee Park and Na Yeon Choi shot 66 in the morning session.

But they're all chasing Johnson, who matched the record set by Laura Davies and Jimin Kang in 2005.

Johnson had a shot a 63 on the course two years ago.

“On 17, that's when I was 8 under and I was trying to beat my 63,” Johnson said. “So then I started getting a little nervous because my goal was to get to 10 under, but I only got to 9. But when you shoot something that you've never shot before, nerves are going to happen.”

Nomura had eight birdies in her career-low round.

“All in all, my putting was on, my shot was really good and the conditions were great,” Nomura said. “So everything was perfect today.”

Kim finished with seven birdies, including a 35-foot putt on 11 that she called “one of the longest putts I've made since the 90s.”

Park, winless this season, had five birdies a week after missing the cut in Alabama to end her streak at 22 events.

Focusing on not letting her shoulder dip down too much, which she said caused her putts to veer to the left last week, Park drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the first hole.

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Jennifer Johnson lines up a putt on the 18th hole during the first round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic golf tournament in Galloway Township, New Jersey, on Friday, May 30.

(AP)

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