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Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions: Ayaka Furue holds first-round lead at LPGA Tour season opener

Ayaka Furue leads the way after the first round of the Tournament of Champions; Maja Stark and Gaby Lopez are tied for second; Charley Hull is back in 28th; The coverage from the LPGA Tour continues on Friday from 6pm on Sky Sports Golf

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Best of the action from the opening round of the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at the Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, in Orlando

Ayaka Furue birdied her final two holes for a bogey-free, seven-under-par 65 to take the first-round lead at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.

Furue secured a two-shot edge over Sweden's Maja Stark and Mexico's Gaby Lopez in the first event of the LPGA season while Ally Ewing and Danielle Kang are tied for fourth after shooting four-under 68 at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club.

The field of 35 comprised of players who won on tour any time in the past two seasons includes Furue, 23, thanks to her title at the 2022 Women's Scottish Open, which remains her only win on tour to date.

"I feel this course is really difficult," Furue said, "Not only my shot but also my putt was really good today, so I think my putt was kind of excellent for me today."

Lopez, 30, showed no signs of jetlag despite being married December 16 and then embarking on a three-week honeymoon with her husband.

"We closed it up in Punta Mita in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico," Lopez said. "That's where I started training. That's what I love to do. Every time we go back to Punta Mita to do just intense training, intense golf, and then just let it flow on the golf course."

Lopez carded three bogeys, but balanced the blemishes out with eight birdies, including four straight to open her round on the back nine.

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"Sometimes when you come with low expectations you kind of relax a little bit, and that's always -- for me the start of the year kind of comes to that," said Lopez, who won this event in 2020.

Stark, 24, had six birdies and a single bogey on Thursday. The one-time LPGA Tour winner said her goals for the year include winning on US soil and representing Sweden at the Olympic Games.

Rose Zhang, still just 20, is entering her first full season on the LPGA Tour after turning pro last summer and winning her first tournament as a pro.

She recovered from back-to-back bogeys to post a three-under 69 Thursday, tied with the likes of New Zealand's Lydia Ko and Canada's Brooke Henderson for sixth.

"Really want to work on myself and how I carry myself on and off the golf course," Zhang said. "You know, it's just I think I became a little stagnant in my growth, and this year it's more so just every single day, finding some purpose to do stuff and to fulfill all my competitiveness."

Lilia Vu, who won two majors last season, and Nelly Korda are part of a tie at one-under 71.

England's Charley Hull is currently in 28th after a difficult day on the course, two bogeys and a double bogey costing her as she failed to get under par.

The coverage from the LPGA Tour's Hilton Grand Vacation Tournament of Champions continues on Friday from 6pm on Sky Sports Golf. Stream golf and more top sport with NOW.

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