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 Taiwan’s Candie Kung and Angela Stanford.
Wie, whose 2009 triumph in Mexico was the first of her two LPGA tour victories to date, opened with back-to-back birdies at Guadalajara Country Club, 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 US golfer 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 US player Stanford both had seven birdies and one bogey in their six-under efforts.
Kung, playing for a fifth straight week, admitted she was not expecting a low round on a course where she has not 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 Park Inbee and Ryu So-yeon 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 honor this week and become the first US golfer to win the award since Beth Daniel in 1994.
World No. 1 Yani Tseng was tied for 13th place with Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and South Korea’s Seo Hee-kyung at 70.
Additional reporting by staff writer