Stanford sets Singapore pace with 66


SINGAPORE – Angela Stanford shot a 6-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead after Thursday’s opening round of the $1.4 million HSBC Women’s Champions.

Stanford started off hot on the front nine with four birdies and added two more on the back nine with no bogeys for the day. She even managed to birdie the ninth despite topping her second shot with a three-wood.

“I can honestly tell you that I’ve never topped a shot and made birdie on the same hole,” the 34-year-old Stanford said. “The fact that I hit some pretty solid shots off the back kind of gave me some confidence throughout the round.”

Five players were tied for second at 4 under: Momoko Ueda, Amy Yang, Na Yeon Choi, I.K. Kim, and So Yeon Ryu. A group of seven were at 3 under at Tanah Merah Country Club.

World No. 1 Yani Tseng shot a 1 under to sit five shots off the lead, and said she was optimistic she could stay in contention during the rest of the tournament. Tseng is seeking her second win of the year after her victory at last week’s LPGA Thailand, and is also seeking to add the elusive Singapore crown to her already impressive collection of career titles.

“I was a couple of shots better than last week’s first round,” the 23-year-old said. “I do feel pretty confident.”

Defending champion Karrie Webb shot an even par 72, while American star Michelle Wie had a disappointing 7-over 79.

The 63-player field includes 18 of the top 20 in the world rankings.