In a bid to secure the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship for the third time, the world’s top-ranked female golfer, Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, had a shaky start on Friday, opening with a two-over 73, eight strokes behind the leader, Veronica Felibert of Venezuela.
The two-time defending champion started the first round from the back nine, striking one birdie and two bogeys. After making the turn, Tseng bogeyed at the second, third and fifth holes before shooting two straight birdies on the next two holes. This is the first time Tseng has had the chance to grab three titles in a row at an event. She won the title in Arkansas with a three-round total 13-under 200 and 12-under 201 in 2010 and last year, respectively.
However, Tseng’s recent performances have not been on par with her early form that saw her storm to three LPGA victories in the beginning of the year. Even though she finished in the top 10 in eight events she has participated in this year, she wrapped up her latest two competitions at 12th and 59th.
Felibert, ranked No. 723, on the other hand, outshone her competition to take the first-round lead with a six under 65.
“Well, I’m enjoying it,” the Venezuelan was quoted as saying on LPGA.com. “It’s like a dream to be on top all the time, so it’s my rookie season, I was trying to just playing the best I could and that’s what I’m doing, and as long as I’m enjoying it, I’ll be happy.”
Taiwan’s Candie Kung finished tied at 35th with an even par, while Amy Hung shot a six-over 77 and sat at 128th at the three-round tourney, which has total prize money of US$2 million.