Ward Leads With Opening Round 64

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Wendy Ward opened with an 8-under-par 64 to take the first-round lead of the rain-shortened Champions Classic.
 
The 28-year-old leads by two strokes over Jennifer Hubbard and Audra Burks, who each carded rounds of 66 over the Country Club of the North, and whom will each play with Ward during Sundays final round.
 
The event was reduced to 36 holes following torrential rains that forced a complete cancellation of play on Friday.
 
Ward is looking for her third win on the LPGA Tour. Her last came in 1998, but she came relatively close here last season, as she charged home with a final round of 63, which tied the course record and saw her finish in sixth-place behind eventual champion Annika Sorenstam.
 
This year, she is hoping to go a little better.
 
'I do like this golf course, said Ward. It sets up well for me.'
 
'The numbers are out there,' she went on to say. 'You can't just kind of scoot around tomorrow and think even-par will do it because it won't.'
 
Burks, a two-year player on the LPGA tour, knows this as well.
 
'When it's just two days instead of three or four, it leaves it wide open to the whole field,' she explained. 'With a three or four-day event, someone like Karrie Webb or Annika has a chance to kind of work their way in, then go low on the last day and beat you. With 36 holes, it's a horse race. You just want to stay on your horse.'
 
At 3-under following an opening round of 69, Sorenstam opened in mediocre fashion, going even-par over the first ten holes, but then kicked in the afterburners with three late birdies. Five shots back, she could pose the kind of last-day threat that Burks was talking about.
 
'I was telling my caddie, Sorenstam said, 'I want to continue. Can we go another nine? I'm getting warmed up.''
 
Should she continue to warm up throughout Sundays round, the LPGA Tour just might have a six-time winner for 2001 on their hands at the awards presentation.
 
Full-field scores from The Champions Classic