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GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) — Michelle Wie shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational with Angela Stanford and Candie Kung.
The 2009 tournament winner for the first of her two LPGA Tour victories, Wie birdied the first two holes at Guadalajara Country Club and opened the back nine with four straight birdies in the bogey-free round that matched her best score of the year.
“It’s nice to come back to a golf course where we have a lot of good memories,” Wie said. “I think the fans are really fun when they come to watch, and I really hope they come to watch. The food is great, everything about this place is great. It’s always really fun to come back here.”
She got into the 36-player field on a sponsor invitation after failing to qualify.
“It’s been a really difficult year,” Wie said. “It’s been the hardest year I’ve had so far, but I think the guacamole is helping this week, and I think that might be the changing point, so I’m going to keep eating it and hopefully it will help.”
Stanford won the inaugural event in 2008. She is trying to win for the second time this year.
“Well, it would mean quite a bit,” Stanford said. “I think any time you can win multiple times in a year that’s a pretty good year. So, that and the opportunity to when here again would be pretty cool.”
Kung is playing for the fifth straight week.
“I was pretty tired, I got here on Monday, midnight and actually slept all the way through Tuesday, and yesterday I slept pretty good, too,” Kung said. I went to bed at 7 and I actually feel really good today. I feel like a new person after the last four weeks.”
Second-ranked Stacy Lewis, coming off her tour-leading fourth victory of the season Sunday in Japan, was a stroke back along with Inbee Park, Cristie Kerr, So Yeon Ryu and Karine Icher.
Lewis has a 58-point lead over Park with two events left in the player of the year points race, putting her in position to become the first American to win the award since Beth Daniel in 1994.
Lewis and Park were paired together.
“We actually hadn’t played together this year,” Lewis said. “It was fun to play together when we are both playing really well. It was a fun day to kind of see how our games stack up. Obviously, by the scores, our games are pretty close.”
Ochoa opened with a 71. The Mexican star won 27 LPGA Tour titles before retiring at age 28 in 2010. She missed the event last year before the birth of son Pedro in December.
Suzann Pettersen, making her first start since winning consecutive events in South Korea and Taiwan, was four strokes back at 70 in a group that included top-ranked Yani Tseng.
Defending champion Catriona Matthew had a 71.
Wi up by one at Disney
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Getting off to a quick start is nothing new for Charlie Wi. The hard part is figuring out how to finish.
Wi took the 18-hole lead for the third time this year — and the eighth time in his PGA Tour career — by closing with back-to-back birdies Thursday for an 8-under 64 on the easier Palm Course at Disney. That gave him a one-shot lead over Camilo Villegas and Tommy Gainey in the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
This is the 184th career start for Wi on the PGA Tour and he’s still looking for his first win.
Wi atop the leaderboard was a reminder that there’s more at stake in the final PGA Tour event of the year than players trying to keep their jobs. Each event is another opportunity for him to get his first win, and that’s would it take for him to have a chance of getting into the top 30 on the money list to earn his first trip to the Masters.
Gainey doesn’t have that opportunity. He won for the first time on tour three weeks ago at Sea Island when he closed with a 60, but he was so far down the money list that even a win at Disney wouldn’t be enough for him to get into the Masters.
The top 12 scores came from the Palm, which played about 1.7 shots easier than the Magnolia, where the final two rounds will be played. Henrik Stenson and Charles Howell III were among five players whose 68 was the best score at Magnolia.
Brian Harman, Scott Stallings and Russell Knox, the rookie from Scotland who is outside the top 150, were at 66. Kevin Chappell, at No. 123 on the money list, overcame an early bogey and was in the group at 67.
Nirat takes lead at Singapore Open
SINGAPORE —Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat shot a 6-under 65 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead after the completion of the first round in the rain-delayed Singapore Open.
Nirat played the final 13 holes Friday morning after play was suspended Thursday afternoon because of rain and the threat of lightning.
Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn was second. He finished the round Thursday.
England’s Simon Khan, Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil and Spain’s Pablo Martin were tied for third at 67 in the event sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.
Top-ranked Rory McIlroy finished off a 70. Adam Scott shot a 71, and Phil Mickelson opened with a 73, and John Daly had a 78.