SINGAPORE - Defending champion Michelle Wie has pulled out of the 2019 HSBC Women's World Championship after 14 holes on Thursday (Feb 28) due to a wrist injury, as world No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn shared the lead with four other golfers on the first day of the tournament.
Wie, 29, had just returned to action following a wrist surgery in October 2018 to repair a small fracture, bone spurs and a pinched nerve. She carded five bogeys and back-to-back double bogeys on the eighth and ninth before withdrawing on the 15th.
Meanwhile the 23-year-old Ariya served notice of her intention to win an LPGA Tour in Asia for the first time when she fired a flawless four-under 68, recording birdies on the second, fifth, 13th and 17th holes at Sentosa Golf Club's New Tanjong Course.
The Thai is joined at the top of the leaderboard by Frenchwoman Celine Boutier, China's Liu Yu, American Amy Olson and Australian Minjee Lee.
Former world No. 1s Feng Shanshan (China) and Park Sung-hyun (South Korea), and Ariya's older sister Moriya Jutanugarn were among seven players who were a further stroke back at the US$1.5 million (S$2.02 million) tournament.
"I would certainly like to add a win in Asia at some point soon. I don't know yet if I can or not this week, but I wish I can," said Ariya, who was the only golfer in the leading pack to avoid a bogey in the first round.
"Today, I played pretty good. I hit pretty good tee shots and my irons were good.
"The greens were pretty fast and really tough because it's really firm. It's so tough to hit it close to the pin... I missed quite a lot of putts but I also made a few."
Meanwhile, Singaporean Amanda Tan had a rough start as she carded an 11-over 83 to prop up the leaderboard of 60 players who completed the round.
Other than Wie, South Koreans Amy Yang, who won the Honda LPGA Thailand last week, and Kim Sei-young also pulled out because of flu and a back injury respectively.