Stacy Lewis came back to the Reignwood LPGA Classic in China to get her finish right this year.
Lewis got off to the right start Thursday, taking the first-round lead with a 7-under-par 66 at the Reignwood Pine Valley Golf Club in Beijing, good for a one-shot lead over Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall and a two-shot lead over South Korea’s Sun Young Yoo and Jenny Shin.
Lewis, the Rolex world No. 1, lost a one-shot lead to China’s Shanshan Feng at the final hole of last year’s event. Lewis made a point upon her return this week of saying that she wasn’t happy with the way she finished a year ago and that she regretted the way she reacted to losing, with a lot of new Chinese golf fans unfamiliar with the game’s etiquette rooting against her and taking lots of photos during play.
“I feel like it's something that I've worked on to get ready for these couple weeks over here,” Lewis told reporters in China after her round Thursday. “I'm trying just not to react to it. That's what I'm trying to do. Just really staying positive and not reacting to it. I know there will be some cameras going on and noise and that's the way it is for everybody.
“I know it's only going to get harder as the week goes on. That's why I'm here.”
Feng opened with a 75.
Lewis played alongside world No. 2 Inbee Park, who has a chance to overtake Lewis for the No. 1 ranking if she wins and Lewis finishes solo third or worse. Park opened with a 69.
Lewis is the only American among the top 50 in the world playing the Reignwood Classic, but with Park and Suzann Pettersen in the field, three of the top four players in the world are there. Pettersen, world No. 4, opened with a 74.
Former world No. 1 Yani Tseng opened with a 69.
“I feel like I played fearless, not worry about too much out there,” Tseng said.
Tseng, 25, who is No. 66 in the world, is seeking her first LPGA victory in two-and-a-half years. She has said her struggles have been more mental and emotional than physical, related to dealing with pressures and expectations that came with being No. 1 for so long, but she’s feeling better about the direction she’s heading.
“I know I have a little heart injury from last couple years, but I think now I'm done and I can't wait to get back,” Tseng said.