Golf: American Jennifer Song shoots 65 and takes surprise first-round lead at HSBC event

Jennifer Song fired seven birdies on a blemish-free scorecard at the Sentosa Golf Club's New Tanjong Course and was two shots clear of compatriot Michelle Wie and South Korean Ji Eun Hee.
Jennifer Song fired seven birdies on a blemish-free scorecard at the Sentosa Golf Club's New Tanjong Course and was two shots clear of compatriot Michelle Wie and South Korean Ji Eun Hee.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Unheralded American Jennifer Song produced a blistering seven-under 65 on Thursday (March 1) to grab the first-round lead of the HSBC Women's World Championship.

The 28-year-old fired seven birdies on a blemish-free scorecard at the Sentosa Golf Club's New Tanjong Course and was two shots clear of compatriot Michelle Wie and South Korean Ji Eun Hee.

A host of players including Thailand's world No. 7 Ariya Jutanugarn and Major champions Danielle Kang, Brooke Henderson and Chun In Gee were a further stroke back at the US$1.5 million (S$2 million) tournament.

But it was Song, who has two wins on the second-tier Futures Tour (now known as the Symetra Tour) though both were in 2010, that stole the headlines with her performance.

The world No. 66 started on the 10th tee and was two-under after her front nine before catching fire on the back with five birdies.

If not for a three-putt on the 18th, Wie would have been closer to Song. But Wie, whose last win was the 2014 US Open and is 26th in the world, remained positive about her game.

The 28-year-old said: "I just misread them 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.

"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."

The morning had started poorly for Ariya with back-to-back bogeys on holes two and three. But the former world No. 1 regrouped with six birdies over the next 15 holes to put herself in contention.

The 22-year-old said: "I'm not really worried about that (her bad start) because I feel like I don't want to remember all the bad things, and I know I just make some mistake, like one shot, and I just make bogey.

"I just focus on the thing under my control and try to focus on my shot, nothing about like something behind."

Defending champion Park In Bee, in her first LPGA Tour start since last August's British Open, was tied-41st after a 73. World No. 1 Feng Shanshan was tied-17th after she signed for a 70 and fan favourite Lydia Ko was tied-27th after she shot 71.