Golf: Michelle Wie grabs first round lead at HSBC Women's Champions with sparkling 66

Michelle Wie of the USA tees off from the fourth hole during the first round of the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore, March 2, 2017.
Michelle Wie of the USA tees off from the fourth hole during the first round of the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore, March 2, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - Michelle Wie made light work of unfamiliar surroundings to grab the first round lead at the HSBC Women's Champions on Thursday (March 2).

The 27-year-old American star fired eight birdies for a six-under 66 for a one-stroke lead at the Sentosa Golf Club's New Tanjong course.

A clutch of five players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn, 2015 HSBC winner Park In Bee, shot 67 and were tied-second at the US$1.5 million (S$2.11 million) tournament.

This is the 10th edition of the HSBC event and the first time it is being staged at the New Tanjong course. It was held at the Tanah Merah Country Club's Garden Course from 2008 to 2012 and at the SGC's Serapong course from 2013 to 2016.

Wie, who has won four LPGA Tour titles though her last was the 2014 US Women's Open, said: "It's a marathon this week, it's not a sprint, but I have to say I'm very proud of where I've positioned myself today, and hopefully the next three days I can keep it going, keep it rolling and keep having fun."

Park, a former world No. 1 and a seven-time Major winner who is returning to competitive golf after a six-month injury lay-off, said: "I worked hard and I knew that it was going to take some time and it wasn't just going to come back right away.

"Today's round is very good for me, and obviously I was able to get some confidence on the golf course. Obviously my putter was a little bit better today than last week, so that's a really good sign."

Top ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand shot 69 and is joint-12th, one better than defending champion Jang Ha Na (70, tied-21st). Singapore's representative Amanda Tan recorded a 76 and is tied-59th.