Choi takes early lead at Safeway Classic


NORTH PLAINS, Ore. – Na Yeon Choi double-bogeyed the par-4 final hole, but had enough in hand to take a two-stroke lead after Friday’s first round of the LPGA Safeway Classic.

Choi, who was runner-up in this tournament last year, birdied seven straight holes to set a personal record and finished with a 6-under 65 to lead by two strokes from Grace Park.

“I’d like to go back to the 18th hole, really,” Choi said.

Park, who has withdrawn or been cut in 38 of her past 67 tournaments, was in second, a shot ahead of Se Ri Pak, Anna Nordqvist, M.J. Hur and Ashli Bunch.

Park has been beset by injuries over the past six years, from her neck to her back to her hip. She had back surgery one year ago, and the year before that, hip surgery.

“In the past that was my excuse and that was the truth,” Park said. “But right now I’m healthy as I’ve been in 10 years.”

Last year’s winner Ai Miyazato shot a 70 while world No. 1 Yani Tseng opened with a 72.