SPRINGFIELD, Ill. » Shanshan Feng made five early birdies and shot an 8-under 64 yesterday, taking a one-stroke lead over Juli Inkster and Na Yeon Choi after the first round of the State Farm LPGA Classic.
Meena Lee, Alena Sharp, Anna Nordqvist, M.J. Hur and Song-Hee Kim were two shots back on a crowded leaderboard at Panther Creek Country Club. Seven other players were within three shots of the lead, including Cristie Kerr and Sophie Gustafson. Michelle Wie shot a 69 and was tied for 29th with 16 other golfers.
Feng’s round was so clean, her only near-blemish came on the 410-yard, par-4 18th, when she had a poor stance on her second shot. She was forced to pitch out, knocked a three-quarter pitching wedge to 8 feet and made a sidehill putt with a deft touch to save par.
"Leading after the first round doesn’t mean you’re going to win the tournament," Feng said. "It’s just the first round. If this was Sunday, I’d be watching every group finish."
The only China-born player on the LPGA Tour made several lengthy putts during her bogey-free round, although her pro-am playing partners from a day earlier might have been wondering what was going on.
"I’m still a little sorry from yesterday because I didn’t make too many putts yesterday in the pro-am," Feng said. "I made some today."
Inkster was 2 over through six holes after a four-putt double bogey on No. 3 when she finally started to make some putts of her own. Six holes later, Inkster was suddenly at 4 under.
"I’ve four-putted on the way to 75 but never to a 65," Inkster said. "I can’t remember the last time I had six (birdies) in a row. I can’t remember when I’ve had five in a row."
Choi’s round was similar to Feng’s in that she did most of her damage on the front side, with five birdies before the turn, but she missed chances on three of the four par-5s. Lee was a little more consistent, making several mid-range putts during her round.
Wie started slow and was 2 over through eight holes before birdieing five of her last 10, with no bogeys, to finish her round at 3 under.
Westwood matches best
Lee Westwood took advantage of no wind and a rain-softened course to shoot a 7-under 63 that equaled his best PGA Tour round and gave him a one-stroke lead in the suspended first round of the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn.
The world’s No. 3-ranked player tuned up for the U.S. Open by tying the TPC Southwind course record for the back nine with a 29. That’s where he had four of his five birdies and an eagle, and he birdied his 10th hole to reach 7 under before pars on the final eight holes.
Severe thunderstorms stopped play last night before the round was suspended nearly an hour later with 20 golfers still to finish.
Casey Wittenberg shot a 64, and Padraig Harrington had a 65.
Defending champ Brian Gay opened with a 73, as did Jordan Spieth, the Texas teen who became the sixth-youngest player to make a PGA cut at the Byron Nelson last month.
McGrane, Goddard tied Damien McGrane of Ireland and Luke Goddard of England shot 8-under 64s to share the lead after the first round of the Estoril Open in Portugal.
Stuart Manley of Wales and Eirik Tage Johansen of Norway were a stroke back.