SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Jennifer Song fired a brilliant seven-under 65 to open a two-shot lead after the first round of the HSBC Women’s World Championships on Thursday, the American returning from a late weather delay to complete a bogey-free 18 holes.
The 28-year-old had a stellar amateur career before turning professional in 2010 yet she remains without a victory on the LPGA Tour, a statistic that could be eradicated if she maintains her opening round form at the 63-player limited-field event.
Song’s round started slowly with two birdies on her outward nine but the American caught fire coming in, picking up five shots in eight holes on the New Tanjong Course to sit two clear of fellow American Michelle Wie and South Korea’s Ji Eun-hee.
“At times it has been a great struggle because I know I can win out here, but I just never have been given that chance yet,” Song told reporters of her long wait for a title.
“But I kept believing that some day, it will happen. I think that’s the reason why myself and other golfers are still grinding because we believe that we can win out here.
“I think that’s what keeps us going and I don’t know, I can’t expect anything ahead of time, so I’ll just let things go day by day and just see how things unfold.”
Last week’s winner Jessica Korda sits three shots off the pace in a group of nine players who all fired four-under 68s, including major winners Ariya Jutanugarn, Chun In-gee, Danielle Kang and Park Sung-hyun.
Defending champion Park In-bee had a round to forget, the Korean’s hopes of recording a third win in four years at the Sentosa Golf Club not helped by a first-round 73, her one-over total leaving her tied for 41st on a day of low scoring.
Wie, still searching for her first win since her 2014 U.S. Open triumph, also fired seven birdies in her five-under 67 but a bogey-five on the last scuppered her chances of sitting just one off the lead heading into the second round.
“I just misread my putts on the last hole, so I feel really good about it. I just had a really tough lie for my second shot there unfortunately, but can’t complain with a five-under first round,” the 28-year-old said.
“Felt like I placed myself in a good position today, so hopefully the next three days, make my birdies. I three-putted twice today, so no more of that.”
(Reporting by John O’Brien; Editing by Toby Davis)