HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. - Birdie Kim, Angela Park and Kim Saiki-Maloney share the lead at the McDonald's LPGA Championship entering the second round today, after shooting opening round 67s to go five-under-par in the LPGA Tour's second major of the year.
Four players are tied for second at 4-under-par: Laura Davies, Karrie Webb, Stacy Prammanasudh and Kraft Nabisco champion Morgan Pressel.
World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa recorded four birdies and three bogeys to post a 1-under 71. Annika Sorenstam, playing only her second tournament after being sidelined with a back injury, sits at 2-under-par, after an opening round 70 that included four birdies and two bogeys.
Of course, the most talked about first-round score here at Pete Dye's Bulle Rock, 40 miles from Baltimore, belonged to embattled teen Michelle Wie, who shot a 1-over-par 73. Wie, easily the biggest story thus far at this year's tournament - after her controversial withdrawal from last week's Ginn Tribute - had a roller-coaster first round. There were three bogeys and a double bogey on her card, but also moments of brilliance, including birdies at Nos. 1, 8, 16 and 18.
"It was great today," Wie said after her round. "I actually hit some really good shots, I built a lot of confidence off of them ... I'm definitely not 100 percent right now, and I'm just going to work on it, work on it and hopefully tomorrow is going to be better than today."
The birdies were flying during Round 1. Thirty seven players shot under par in the first round, and 12 went 69 or lower.
"There are definitely opportunities out there," Pressel said, having taken the steady way herself with a four-birdie, no-bogey 68 to set herself up with a good chance of being in contention for her second major of the season going into the weekend.
"It was a little windy, but not too bad," Pressel continued. "And the course isn't really firm and fast, it's a little receptive. So in that sense, you can be a little bit more aggressive in going at pins, and the greens are rolling great."
It seemed that safe play was the right play for many players. Wie, for instance, left her driver sheathed the entire round, clearly not wanting a repeat of last week, when horrendous tee shots contributed to a score of 14-over-par before Wie withdrew, saying she had slightly re-injured her wrist.
"I just felt like there was no need (for driver in the first round)," Wie said. "I chose clubs to hit the fairway."
Not everyone played it safe: Davies, the veteran Briton, gripped-it and ripped-it on many holes, and it worked - mostly. The 43-year-old put up seven birdies, and also four bogeys.
"It looks a little bit wild," Davies said. "But ..."
South Korea's Kim, living up to her first name, had six birdies on her round. But she had to work for some of them. After an 8-iron approach on the par-4 16th, Kim rolled in a nine-footer. On the par-3 17th, she went with 7-iron off the tee, and hit to 36 feet from the pin. She rolled in that one too. Another 8-iron approach on the par-4 18th, another nine-footer, and another birdie.
"I'm playing very steady today," the 2005 US Women's Open winner told reporters. "Just hit the fairways, make the greens and just make the birdies and make an easy par. The first 18, I just played easy golf today."
Saiki-Maloney, a 15-year-veteran of the tour, has struggled this year, missing six of nine cuts. Her opening round was nearly flawless: one bogey, and six birdies. Brazilian Park, a tour rookie, also posted one bogey and six birdies on her round, and told reporters that having the early lead is one thing, but that Sunday is a long way off.
"No matter what, doesn't matter which round you're on, first round, second round, third round, fourth round; the tournament is not over until you make the last putt," she said.
Defending champion Se Ri Pak failed to put anything significant together in her first round, and is at 1-over-par.
June 8, 2007
Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Anyone looking back at the final scores of the 2009 Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Anne's will almost certainly come to the wrong conclusion that this was a comfortable three-shot win for Catriona Matthew. It was anything but as the seemingly imperturbable Scot struggled to hit a fairway throughout the final round and was only rescued by some superb recovery shots and a bunch of astonishing long putts.
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