Ai Miyazato and Pernilla Lindberg shot rounds of 7-under 65 in wet conditions Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Canadian Women’s Open.
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Canadian Samantha Richdale opened with a 66 at Hillsdale Gold Club, and defending champion Michelle Wie was at 67 along with Angela Stanford, Mi Hyun Kim, Song-Hee Sim and Jenny Shin.
Wie, using a long putter, holed a 60-footer for birdie on the par-5 fifth and closed with a 45-foot birdie putt on her final hole. She won last year at St. Charles in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Miyazato won the Evian Masters in July. The Japanese star won five LPGA Tour titles last year.
”I did have expectations coming into this season but there was the earthquake and it had a bit of an effect on me on and off the golf course,” she said. ”But since around June I started feeling very good about my game and I was able to win at Evian, so I’m feeling very relaxed now.”
She capped her bogey-free round by curling in an 8-foot birdie putt on 18.
”I had a really good feeling with my swing tempo and that’s why I had so many birdie opportunities,” Miyazato said. ”My distance control was really good and my putting as well.”
Lindberg, from Sweden, had eight birdies and a bogey.
”I was driving it great, barely missed a fairway, and felt easy with my irons,” said Lindberg, who has missed five of eight cuts this year. ”But the best part was my putting.”
Wie began using the belly putter after the US Women’s Open in July.
”You know, I like my putter,” she said. ”Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been toying with different grips and different ways to do it. But it’s feeling pretty good and I’ve got to keep working on it. Putting is something I always need to work on. Obviously, making two long putts helps the score. Hopefully, I can make a couple more of them over the next couple of days.”
Richdale is in her second year on the tour.
”Just over a month ago I went to see Dave Stockton to work on my putting and today, my caddie (Tom Konopacki) and I just read some really good and I made them,” Richdale said. ”It’s special. I had my brother (Josh) in the crowd, which was really nice. We had great weather in the afternoon.”
Jocelyne Bourassa (1973 La Canadienne) is the only Canadian to win an LPGA Tour event in Canada.
Top-ranked Yani Tseng opened with a 71.
Canadian Lorie Kane also shot a 71, and Suzann Pettersen, the Safeway Classic winner Sunday in Oregon, had a 73. Pettersen won the 2009 event at Priddis Greens in Alberta, and tied for second last year.
Heavy rain overnight left the course wet enough that players were allowed to lift and place their golf balls in the fairways. Dark clouds hung over the course from time to time, and there were occasional short, hard bursts of rain.