CARLSBAD, Calif. – Top-ranked Yani Tseng shot a 5-under 67 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead with Ji Young Oh and Caroline Hedwall in the Kia Classic.
Tseng won the LPGA Founders Cup on Sunday in Phoenix for her 14th LPGA title and second in four events this year. The 23-year-old Taiwanese star led the tour last season with seven victories – including major victories in the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open – and finished the year with 12 worldwide titles.
Tseng finished with a birdie on the par-4 ninth after dropping a stroke on the par-3 eighth when she drew a difficult lie in a greenside bunker.
“It plugged in the bunker,” Tseng said. “I didn’t have a good lie there. I chipped out pretty good to 6 feet and just missed (the putt) a little bit to the right.”
On the ninth, her approach shot hit the left side of the fringe and kicked onto the green, coming to rest 3 feet from the hole.
“I think I hit a good shot,” Tseng said. “Sometimes you hit a good shot, you get good luck and a good bounce.”
Tseng hit eight of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens in regulation.
“I didn’t hit a lot of fairways,” Tseng said. “This golf course is very narrow and the rough is really long. If you don’t hit the fairways, it’s kind of very hard to get close to the pin.”
Oh, a two-time LPGA winner who fought a hip injury the last two seasons, also had six birdies and a bogey – also on No. 8 – on La Costa’s Legends Course. She hit all but one fairway.
“Everything is good for me, I’m really calm,” Oh said. “My shot is really good, so I have a good score.”
Hedwall had seven birdies and two bogeys.
Suzann Pettersen, Jiyai Shin, Brittany Lincicome and Jennifer Johnson were a stroke back
Pettersen played alongside Tseng.
“I really wanted to make that last putt because she was going to make hers to go to 5 under,” Pettersen said. “It’s a nice edge, it kind of gets you focused just a fraction bit more.”
Sandra Gal, the winner last year at Industry Hills, shot a 72.
Michelle Wie opened with a 77.