Paula Creamer and Mariajo Uribe jumped out to the lead in the 1st round of the Kia Classic yesterday on the strength of 5-under-par 67s. Even though they started on opposite sides, both Uribe's bogey-free round and Creamer's 6-birdie round were the result of fast starts and solid finishes. Ditto for Shanshan Feng's 5-birdie 68, Jodi Ewart Shadoff's bogey-free 68, and Cristie Kerr's and Mi Hyang Lee's 6-birdie 68s. The common denominator was really solid ball-striking for all the top players today.
By contrast, Hee Young Park stumbled to a 77, Angela Stanford, Morgan Pressel, and Pornanong Phatlum to 76s, Karrie Webb and Caroline Hedwall to 75s, and Lydia Ko, Chella Choi, Hee Kyung Seo, and Sei Young Kim to 74s. So you know it was tough to score out there is Carlsbad.
That makes me even happier that Ai Miyazato joined the big group at -2. Her putter continues to let her down, but at least her ball-striking is getting more and more precise. I'm starting to feel like she's going to start breaking 70 more regularly soon. I get the same feeling about Inbee Park, who's looking more and more like she's going to start blitzing courses once her putter really heats up. Her bogey-free 69 clearly could have been a lot lower.
All in all, it's a pretty fun leaderboard, with Azahara Munoz (69) continuing to ratify my pre-season trust in her, Lizette Salas (69) trying to keep Kerr honest and give her a run for her money for the last spot on Team USA in the International Crown, Lexi Thompson (69) ready to sport a "Lydia Who?" hat of her own, Tiffany Joh (69) doing her thing, Stacy Lewis, So Yeon Ryu, Michelle Wie, and Se Ri Pak only 3 off the pace, and Ya Ni Tseng (71) under par.
So there's going to be some drama around the cut line later today, as well as in the higher reaches of the leaderboard.
[Update 1 (12:36 am): Best wishes to Suzann Pettersen on a speedy recovery from a back injury. Having had my share, most recently this fall, I sympathize. Wonder what it'd take for the golfy media to pay as much attention to her back as Tiger's?]