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Stanford holds first-round lead
Feb 23, 2012

For the second time in three years, Angela Stanford holds the first-round lead at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore. The 34-year-old Texan carded a bogey-free 6-under-par 66, one shy of Lorena Ochoa’s tournament record of 65 (2008, second round), to take a two-shot advantage over five players after 18 holes of play at Tanah Merah Country Club. In 2010, Stanford held a share of the first-round lead with Cristie Kerr and Hee Young Park at 4-under-par 68 and went on to tie for ninth. Her career-best finish at the HSBC event came in 2009, when she tied for third.

Stanford’s day started with a birdie at the 10th, her first hole, before making the turn at 2-under-par 34. She added birdies on holes one, two, seven and the par-5 ninth – where she topped her second shot with a 3-wood, but recovered to drain a 30-foot birdie – to finish the day at 66.

Patience isn’t a virtue that comes easily to Angela Stanford, in fact, when it comes to holding the lead, she tends to force the issue. “As much as I think sitting here being 34 and think that I'm pretty mature, I'm not,” she said. “I'm still extremely impatient out there.” This time around, Stanford hopes to put less pressure on herself and let things come to her. In her 12th year on Tour, the Texan has four victories, the most recent coming at the 2009 SBS Open at Turtle Bay.

A pack of five players sit two shots behind Angela Stanford at the HSBC Women’s Champions. Five-time LPGA winner Na Yeon Choi, three-time LPGA winner I.K. Kim, two-time LPGA winner Momoko Ueda, 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu and Amy Yang each shot 68 on Thursday. Among them, Yang is the lone player without a victory on the LPGA. “I really want to have my first win on the Tour,” Yan said. “I'm going to keep trying hard. My game feels good.”

Momoko Ueda overcame an early-week stomach bug and a double bogey on her first hole of the day to stay in contention at the fifth-annual HSBC Women’s Champions. The 25-year-old began the day on the 10th hole with a double bogey, but played the next 17 holes in 6-under-par – holding the lead for much of the round – to finish the day with a 4-under-par 68. Ueda reeled off three-consecutive birdies on two separate occasions Thursday on holes 15, 16 and 17, then again on five, six and seven. “I had a good feeling today,” she said. “My start was so bad, but I stayed patient.” Ueda won the 2007 Mizuno Classic as a member of the LPGA of Japan (JLPGA) and returned in 2011 to claim her second-career victory at the same tournament, defeating Shanshan Feng in a three-hole, sudden death playoff.

Na Yeon Choi is looking for her second victory in four months in the region. Choi recorded her fifth-career LPGA victory in neighboring Malaysia last October at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. She has topped the $1 million mark in earnings in each of her four previous seasons on Tour including 2010, when she led the LPGA Official Money List with more than $1.8 million and won the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. She has finished in the top-10 of the two previous playings of the HSBC Women’s Champions, including a career-best sixth place finish at the Singapore-based event last season.

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng battled a sore elbow en route to a 1-under-par 71. Tseng, the winner of last week’s Honda LPGA Thailand, admitted that her right elbow is prone to soreness following a three-week break from golf in the offseason. “Today it wasn't hurt, just sore,” she said. “I feel I'm in pretty good shape and just ice later. Yesterday, when hitting driver and hitting shots out of the rough, it's very painful. But I did some ultrasound and ice and physio work, so it's getting much better.” She carded three birdies and two bogies to begin the week five shots out of the lead. Last week, Tseng earned her 13th career LPGA victory at the Honda LPGA Thailand, overcoming a seven-shot first-round deficit.

Temperatures were in the mid 80’s on Thursday with light winds from the Northeast… Defending champion Karrie Webb shot even-par 72… 2010 HSBC winner Ai Miyazato shot 3-under-par 69, while 2009 winner Jiyai Shin carded a 2-under-par 70.

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