The JLPGA's Chie Arimura fired a 5-birdie 68 to take a 1-shot lead over Na Yeon Choi and a 2-shot lead over Ya Ni Tseng, Karrie Webb, Karen Stupples, and Sun Young Yoo in the 1st round of the HSBC Women's Champions. Only a late bogey by Arimura and a late charge by Choi (she was -3 over her last 7 holes of bogey-free golf) kept the deficit that small. Tseng had birdied her last 3 holes in a row on the front to post a 34, but mixed 3 bogeys with her 3 birdies on the back to settle for a 70. Webb needed to birdie 2 of her last 3 holes to get her 5-birdie 70. Yoo, meanwhile, played bogey-free golf all day, but couldn't buy a birdie on the back. It was Stupples, though, who had the real roller-coster round of the day. She bogeyed 1 and doubled the island-green par-3 3rd, and even bogeyed the 7th after coming back with 2 birdies in a row on 4 and 5. But then she went off, eagling the par 5s 9 and 13 and birdieing the par-4 16th to offset her lone bogey the rest of the way on 12.
The Garden Course at Tanah Merah was playing tough today, as LPGA.com notes. Only 5 other players went under par, including Ji-Yai Shin and Natalie Gulbis, and only 8 other players, among them In-Kyung-Kim, Stacy Lewis, Mika Miyazato, Vicky Hurst, Eun-Hee Ji, and Hee Kyung Seo, shot even-par rounds. Still, there are 30 players within 5 shots of the lead and Ai Miyazato (74), Cristie Kerr (74), Katherine Hull (74), and Paula Creamer (76) just need 1 really low round or 3 good rounds to get right back in this thing. But what's up with Song-Hee Kim? A 79 today is even worse than her moving-day 77 in Thailand! Not the start I expected for her this season, to say the least.
But that's why they tee it up! Can't wait to see the coverage!
[Update 1 (11:02 am): bangkokbobby's got lots of photos from the 1st round!]
[Update 2 (11:24 am): Here's Ryan Ballengee.]
[Update 3 (11:54 am): I was in a rush this morning and forgot to link to Mike Southern's set-up post, where he links the 32 guys going home from the WGC match play event to the 63 ladies starting their engines in Singapore at the time of his writing!]