Ai Miyazato and Pernilla Lindberg fired seven-under 65s on soggy greens on Thursday to share the lead in the Canadian Women’s Open, with crowd favorite Samantha Richdale of Canada a shot back.
Defending champion Michelle Wie was two shots adrift after shooting a five-under 67 at the Hillsdale Gold Club course just outside of Montreal.
Richdale opened with a 66 and another stroke back was Angela Stanford, Jenny Shin and South Korea’s Kim Mi-hyun.
“I did have expectations coming into this season, but there was the earthquake and it had a bit of affect on me on and off the golf course,” said Miyazato, who won five titles last year. “But since around June, I started feeling very good about my game and I was able to win at Evian, so I’m feeling very relaxed now.”
Wie rolled in a 60-foot birdie putt on the par-five fifth hole. She also closed with a 45-foot putt for birdie on her final hole.
She has two career titles with one of those coming in Winnipeg, Canada at the St Charles event.
Miyazato fashioned a bogey-free round and finished it off with an eight-foot birdie putt on the 18th.
“I had a really good feeling with my swing tempo and that’s why I had so many birdie opportunities,” Miyazato said. “My distance control was really good and my putting as well.”
Richdale is in her second year on the tour.
“Just over a month ago, I went to see Dave Stockton to work on my putting and today, my caddie [Tom Konopacki] and I just read some really good and I made them,” Richdale said. “It’s special. I had my brother [Josh] in the crowd, which was really nice.”
Sweden’s Lindberg posted one bogey and eight birdies.
“I was driving it great, barely missed a fairway and felt easy with my irons,” Lindberg said. “But the best part was my putting.”
Wie has changed her game to try and get into the winner’s circle. She now uses a belly putter, which allows her to stand more upright when she is putting.
“You know, I like my putter,” she said. “Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been toying with different grips and different ways to do it. But it’s feeling pretty good and I’ve got to keep working on it. Putting is something I always need to work on. Obviously, making two long putts helps the score. Hopefully, I can make a couple more of them over the next couple of days.”
An opening bogey shadowed Yani Tseng’s first round, where she finished the day tied for 41st at one-under 71.
The world’s top-ranked female player did not seem to have returned to form after finishing 13th in the Safeway Classic last week, opening the round with another bogey in the par-four sixth hole.
The 22-year-old fired three birdies at the ninth 12th, 13th and 15th to rally to three-under at one point, but slumped back to one-under after a third bogey at the 16th. She was six shots behind leaders Ai Miyazato and Pernilla Lindberg.
Fellow Taiwanese Amy Hung was tied for 31st at two-under, while Candie Kung shared 63rd with an even-par.