Singapore: American Angela Stanford posted a six-under 66 to grab the first-round lead on Thursday at the $1.4-million HSBC Women's Champions tournament in Singapore.
Japan's Momoko Ueda was two shots adrift at four-under 68 and tied for second place alongside four South Koreans including Choi Na Yeon who topped the LPGA Tour money list in 2010.
Tournament favorite and world number one Yani Tseng, who is bidding for a first Singapore win, was tied 20th with a one-under 71 after a string of missed birdie opportunities and costly bogeys at the fourth and tenth holes.
Stanford's bogey-free round was just one shot shy of equalling a tournament record of 65, set in the second round by former great Lorena Ochoa in 2008 who went on to win the title that year.
The Texan made the most of her chances and even managed a birdie putt at the ninth hole despite having topped the ball on her second shot using a three-wood.
"Well, the second shot was not a desirable outcome. Nobody likes a three-wood," Stanford said with a laugh.
"I can honestly tell you, I've never topped a shot and made birdie on the same hole," she said.
Former champion Ai Miyazato of Japan, who is bidding for her second Singapore title to add to her 2010 triumph, was three shots behind the clubhouse leader after carding a three-under 69.
"I had a good comeback," Miyazato said of her performance in the back nine where she birdied the last four holes to partly make up for two bogeys.
"The golf course is always in good shape. It's pretty difficult but it's kind of challenging me, so really nice."
Tseng said her one-under finish was "not bad" despite missing several birdie chances.
"I do feel pretty confident. This golf course every year I feel like I'm getting closer and closer to winning the tournament," she said.
The 23-year-old Taiwanese sensation has been suffering from tendonitis in her arms but said the discomfort would have a minimal impact on her chances of winning.
"I mean, today it wasn't hurt, just sore," said Tseng.
"But I did some ultrasound and ice and physio work on my arms a little bit. So it's getting much better."
Defending champion Karrie Webb of Australia was even for the day at 72 and tied at 29th spot with 12 other players.
There is no halfway-cut for the event which means there is still an opportunity for those lower down the field to work their way into contention for the title.
Story first published on: Thursday, 23 February 2012 18:02 IST