Ocala, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Stacy Lewis, Jessica Korda and Azahara Munoz carded matching, 6-under 66s at the season-opening Coates Golf Championship. Wednesday's first round was suspended due to darkness with 21 players still on the course.
Lewis, the No. 3 player in the world, has won 11 times on the LPGA Tour, including three victories last season. Lewis won the Rolex Player of the Year, the Vare Trophy and the official money title in 2014.
Korda, a three-time winner on tour, won twice last year at the season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic and the Airbus LPGA Classic. Munoz has one victory at the 2012 Sybase Match Play Championship.
Austin Ernst and Ha Na Jang finished up in the morning groups at 5-under 67. They held the lead throughout most of the day until Lewis, Korda and Munoz caught them later on at Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club.
World No. 2 Lydia Ko, who took the women's golf world by storm in her rookie season last year when she won three times and took home the season-long Race to the CME Globe, finished her first round tied for sixth at 4-under 68 with Na Yeon Choi. Lexi Thompson and Mi Jung Hur are one shot further back at 3- under 69.
World No. 1 Inbee Park carded a 1-under 71 and she is tied for 15th with 11 others.
Lewis was the last of the leaders to finish her round, but she did so in style and she vaulted into a share of the lead. Lewis started off her day on the back nine and she made par on 10 before rolling in her first birdie of the season on No. 11. It was short-lived as Lewis tripped to her only bogey on the par-4 13th, putting her back to even par.
Following four straight pars from 14, Lewis drained another gain on 18 and she made the turn at 1-under. After a trio of pars from one, Lewis went on a huge run to finish up her round, making five birdies over her final six holes from No. 4.
"I just stayed patient out there," said Lewis. "Finally on the back nine kind of got more comfortable just with back playing again and just started hitting golf shots. Had a couple birdies that were just tap-ins, which helped, and rolled a few putts in so it was a good day."
Korda started her round on the front nine and began with five straight pars from No. 1 before getting into red numbers. Korda made back-to-back birdies on six and seven and she made the turn at minus-2.
Korda rolled in her third birdie on No. 11 and later poured in three gains in a four-hole stretch from No. 14, giving her the lead at minus-6. Korda ended with a par at the last and was later joined by Munoz and Lewis in the lead.
"I just try and play like this every day of every year," Korda said about her success at season-opening events. "I don't know, I guess I like the starts. I like being back and I feel refreshed and just happy to be here."
Munoz, playing the back nine first, got off to a hot start when she played her first 10 holes at 4-under with birdies on 12, 14, 18 and one. Munoz tripped to her lone bogey of the day on No. 4, but she responded with a hot finish.
The 27-year-old made a birdie on No. 4 before a trio of pars from No. 5. Munoz then drained birdies on her last two holes at eight and nine to finish at 6- under.
"I hit lots of fairways, and when I missed it I missed it by about a yard so I was always pretty good," Munoz said. "I hit my irons really well. I think I hit 17 greens ... So I gave myself a lot of opportunities and I made them, too, so I rolled the ball pretty good."
NOTES: The Coates Golf Championship is a new event on the LPGA Tour ... Tiffany Joh, Marina Alex and Mallory Blackwelder are through 15 holes and they were the furthest from finishing their rounds Wednesday ... Round one will resume at 7:30 a.m. ET Thursday, with round two beginning at the same time as scheduled ... Line Vedel (back) and Sarah Kemp (illness) both withdrew during their first rounds.