Wie shares lead with Kung, Stanford
Michelle Wie had six birdies in a six-under 66 on Thursday to seize a share of the first round lead in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational alongside Candie Kung and Angela Stanford.
Wie, whose 2009 triumph here was the first of her two LPGA tour victories to date, opened with back-to-back birdies at Guadalajara Country Club in Mexico, and strung together four successive birdies from the 10th through the 13th.
It was a great start for a player who has struggled to just two top-20 finishes this season and needed a sponsor invitation to get into the 36-player field after failing to qualify.
"It's been a really difficult year," said Wie, whose round was just her eighth in the 60s this year. "It's been the hardest year I've had so far."
The American said she knows what she needs to do to keep it going at Guadalajara.
"You have to be on the right position on the fairway, on the right position on the green, get above the hole a couple times and getting in your putts," she said. "So for the next couple of days, I just need to put them in the right position, keep doing that – just position golf."
Taiwan's Kung and American player Stanford both had seven birdies and one bogey in their six-under efforts.
Kung, playing for a fifth straight week, admitted she wasn't expecting a low round on a course where she hasn't done particularly well in the past.
"I did not expect this at all," she said. "This is my fifth year and I haven't done well at all the last four, so I just kind of go out there and play my way around and I happened to have seven birdies."
World No 2 Stacy Lewis, who won her fourth title of the season last week in Japan, was one shot off the pace on 67, tied with Evian Masters winner Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu of South Korea, France's Karine Icher and Cristie Kerr.
Lewis has a 58-point lead over Park with two events left in the LPGA Player of the Year points race.
She is bidding to wrap up the honour this week and become the first US golfer to win the award since Beth Daniel in 1994.
Lewis and Park were paired together, a move Lewis welcomed.
"It was a fun day to kind of see how our games stack up," Lewis said. "Obviously by the scores, our games are pretty close."
Tournament host Lorena Ochoa, the Mexican superstar who won 27 LPGA Tour titles before retiring in 2010, opened with a 71.
This time last year, 28-year-old Ochoa was expecting the birth of her son Pedro, who was born in December.
LEADING FIRST-ROUND SCORES (USA unless noted, par-72):
66 - Candie Kung (TPE), Angela Stanford, Michelle Wie
67 - Karine Icher (FRA), Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park (KOR), So Yeon Ryu (KOR)
68 - Katherine Hull (AUS), I.K. Kim (KOR)
69 - Anna Nordqvist (SWE), Beatriz Recari (ESP)
70 - Suzann Pettersen (NOR), Hee Kyung Seo (KOR), Yani Tseng (TPE)
71 - Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Vicky Hurst, Brittany Lincicome, Catriona Matthew (SCO), Kristy McPherson, Azahara Munoz (ESP), Lorena Ochoa (MEX), Lexi Thompson
72 - Alejandra Llaneza (MEX)
73 - Sandra Gal (GER), Eun-Hee Ji (KOR), Brittany Lang, Ai Miyazato (JPN)
74 - Haeji Kang (KOR)
75 - Jessica Korda, Meena Lee (KOR)
76 - Chella Choi (KOR), Giulia Sergas (ITA)
77 - Tanya Dergal (MEX), Julieta Granada (PAR)