Lydia Ko, the top player in the world, shares the early lead at the Aramco Saudi Women International

At the Aramco Saudi Women International, world number one Lydia Ko and Pajaree Anannarukarn both shot eight-under-par 64s to tie for the early lead.

Atthaya Thitikul, a fellow Thai national like Anannarukarn, is one shot behind him, along with Aditi Ashok and Jung-Min Hong.

After a first-round score of 70, Georgia Hall of England, the defending winner, sits six strokes back.

The event’s $5 million (£4.16 million) purse ranks third among those offered on the Ladies European Tour.

With a five-fold increase, it equals the prize money from the Asian Tour’s men’s PIF Saudi International.

Ko, a South Korean-born athlete who currently competes for New Zealand, won the competition in 2021 but did not defend her victory the following year.

As she recorded four birdies on the front and back nines of Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, she appeared to be in excellent shape.

Ko added, “I knew today was the day to benefit from the calmer conditions.

“I had to be a little bit more forceful with some of the pin positions. It was that kind of day and a good start to the season because I was able to take advantage of the majority of my opportunities.

It’s awesome to realize that as a Mrs., my round was officially below par.

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