Brittany Lincicome shot a six-under 66 to lead Thursday’s opening round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first women’s golf major of the season.
Pushed along by playing partner Oh Ji-young in a round she likened to match play, Lincicome hit 16 greens in regulation. Oh hit 14 greens and was tied for second at 67 with Angela Stanford and Brittany Lang.
While Lincicome and Oh fought it out, defending champion Lorena Ochoa got off to an uncharacteristically poor start with a one-over 73. Three years ago, Ochoa opened with a 62 at Mission Hills to tie a major championship record.
The top-ranked Mexican star started on the 10th tee and was two under at the turn before carding three bogeys and no birdies on the front nine.
Ochoa hit only four fairways.
Lincicome and Oh started on No. 10. Lincicome birdied holes 10, 11, 15 and 18, while Oh birdied 11, 14 and 18. Remarkably, they each went birdie-birdie-bogey-birdie-birdie after making the turn.
Stanford eagled the par-five 18th by hitting a 7-wood to 20 feet.
Kristy McPherson shot a 68. Tied for sixth at 69 were Lee Ji-hee, Kim Song-hee, Yani Tseng of Taiwan, Christina Kim, Katherine Hull and Lee Jee-young.
Tseng was the US LPGA Rookie of the Year last year. Just 19 at the time, she became the youngest player ever to win the US LPGA Championship.
Michelle Wie finished the opening round at 71 — in a tie for 18th.
The way she was missing fairways, she could have been four or five strokes over. But her short game saved her. Wie made several putts of 6 to 8 feet during her round of three birdies and two bogeys.
Taiwan’s Candie Kung and Teresa Lu were in an eight-player tie for seventh after shooting 72.
■SHELL HOUSTON OPEN
AP, HUMBLE, TEXAS
The first round of the Shell Houston Open was suspended because of high winds with only half the 144-player field on the course on Thursday. The round was set to resume yesterday.
A morning thunderstorm postponed the start of the tournament by two-and-a-half hours. Play was then stopped at 12:50pm because of winds that were strong enough to move balls on the slippery greens before players could mark them. The round was suspended for the day at 3pm after wind gusts reached 80kph.
Lee Westwood shot a four-under 32 on the front nine to take a two-shot lead before the horns sounded across the course.
The wind delay was the first on the US PGA Tour since the final round of the 2007 Verizon Heritage Classic at Hilton Head was suspended.
Westwood held a two-shot lead over a pack of eight players at two-under.
AP, CASCAIS, PORTUGAL
Ross McGowan of England equaled his lowest European Tour score with a seven-under 64 to lead the Estoril Open by two shot in windy conditions at Oitavos Dunes Club on Thursday.
Yet to win on tour and ranked No. 164 in the World, McGowan was asked afterward where he’d like to be in four or five years.
“Obviously I’d like to be No. 1 in the world, but it is how you get there. Not all of us are as gifted as Tiger [Woods],” said McGowan, the 2006 English amateur champion.
Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland, a former British amateur champion, was second with a 66. He eagled the 573-yard, par-five 16th.
A further shot back with 67s were Carlos del Moral of Spain, Simon Dyson of England and Alastair Forsyth of Scotland, who lost in a three-man playoff last year.