Ya Ni Tseng was a birdie machine during yesterday's 1st round of the Hana Bank Championship, torching the Sky 72 Ocean course with 10 of them on her way to a 7-under-par 65 that gave her a 1-shot lead on the unheralded Chella Choi and a 2-shot lead on Sandra Gal and 2-time defending champion Na Yeon Choi. Tseng birdied 3 holes in a row on each side and bounced back from a missed tap-in on the tough par-4 16th for her 3rd bogey of the day with back-to-back birdies to close out her round and eclipse the mark set earlier in the day by Chella Choi, who started on the 10th, eagled the par-5 13th, and followed it up with 5 birdies over her last 10 holes. Chella's better-known namesake, playing alongside Tseng, chugged along with 5 birdies and no bogeys to catch Gal, who made 1 more birdie and 1 more bogey than she did from a back-9 start.
A host of golfers broke 70 in near-perfect conditions, most notably rival Solheim Cuppers Paula Creamer and Sophie Gustafson at -4 (alongside Hee Young Park and LPGA veterans Mi Hyun Kim, Jimin Kang, and Meena Lee) and Grace Park and Beatriz Recari at -3 (alongside KLPGA stars Bo-Mee Lee, Shin-Ae Ahn, and Soo-Jin Yang). With the likes of In-Kyung Kim, Angela Stanford, Catriona Matthew, Azahara Munoz, Juli Inkster, He Yong Choi, Ha Neul Kim, and Hyun-Hwa Sim only 5 off the pace, Tseng can't breathe all that easy heading into the weekend.
However, given how flat many big names started--Karrie Webb, Amy Yang, Brittany Lincicome, Karen Stupples, and Katherine Hull could only manage 71s, Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, Ji-Yai Shin, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Anna Nordqvist, Song-Hee Kim, and Hee Kyung Seo 72s, Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lang, So Yeon Ryu, and Shanshan Feng 73s, Inbee Park and Maria Hjorth 74s, Vicky Hurst a 75, and Ryann O'Toole a 77--I would say that both Tseng and Choi have a huge advantage heading into today's play.
(Of course I'm being coy--if you actually clicked on the few scorecards I linked to above, you'll see how those golfers did today. I'm queuing up today's post but will hold off on actually posting it until Golf Channel coverage starts at 1 pm. Although the coverage is so bad it's making me nostalgic for even the B-minus-game GC usually devotes to the 1st round of an LPGA event. I blame the editing and announcing by what seems to be an Australian team taking the Korean feed and putting it into English....)