Golf

Munoz grabs lead at HSBC Champions

Clearly, Azahara Munoz was focused Thursday in the first round.
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SINGAPORE (AP)

Spain's Azahara Munoz shot a 7-under-par 65 to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the HSBC Women's Champions on Thursday.

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Munoz, playing in the first group of the day, made seven birdies in a blemish-free round to top the leaderboard boasting a star-studded field at Sentosa Golf Club that includes 17 of the top 20 players in the world.

Five players were in a share of second place at 5-under 67: Stacy Lewis, Karin Sjodin, Lizette Salas, Pornanong Phatlum and Sun Young Yoo.

Paula Creamer was a stroke back at 4-under 68, despite struggling with a right shoulder injury sustained in a car accident in Thailand on Sunday. Creamer was in a four-way tie for seventh with top-ranked Yani Tseng of Taiwan, Danielle Kang and Chella Choi.

The 25-year-old Munoz is coming off her strongest season on tour, winning her first title at the Sybase Match Play Championship and notching nine top-10 finishes.

The Spaniard said she plays well when she's first out on the course in the morning.

''I don't know what it is but my best three rounds on tour have been first tee time,'' she said. ''I really like it. You don't have to wait, it's super nice, the greens are perfect. I think it gets me going.''

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Tseng, a five-time major winner, was five shots off the lead before sinking a 25-foot putt for eagle on the 18th hole to jump up the leaderboard.

Tseng hasn't won a tournament in nearly a year, but she has started the 2013 season strongly, finishing second at the Australian Open and tied for third at Thailand last weekend.

She said she made a bet with her manager, Naya Hsu, on Thursday morning to try to motivate herself to play better. If she scored a 68 or better, Hsu agreed to go skydiving with her in Hawaii.

''When that putt dropped in, I was so happy,'' Tseng said. ''I was looking for her. I saw her face, I think she's going to cry.

''I think it feels good because I haven't had that feeling for a long time. 'The last two weeks, (I was) kind of a little rushed, trying to play well on the first day. And today I've been patient because I know it's only the first day, I still have three days left.''

Creamer was just happy to be on the course at all after her accident.

Two other players, Ai Miyazato and Suzann Pettersen, also suffered minor injuries in the crash in Thailand. Miyazato pulled out of the HSBC Champions on Wednesday, citing stiffness in her back, neck and shoulder.

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Creamer said she jammed her shoulder when she hit the dashboard of the car and suffered whiplash after slamming her head off the headrest.

''At the beginning of the round, I really couldn't feel my right side and I didn't know if I was going to be able to even go,'' she said. ''I thought if I could get through the first five holes, I would be OK.

''I have no expectations whatsoever this week.''

Second-ranked Na Yeon Choi, who is trying to close in on Tseng's No. 1 ranking, shot a 3-under 69 to finish in a share of 11th place. American Michelle Wie, South Korean Jiyai Shin and Australian Karrie Webb were two shots back at 1-under 71.

Pettersen had three bogeys and finished in a share of 44th place at 1-over 73.

Defending champion Angela Stanford also struggled on the Serapong course, hitting a quadruple bogey on the par-4 13th hole en route to a 4-over 76.

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