SINGAPORE (AP) — Japan’s Chie Arimura overcame strong winds to shoot a 4-under 68 and take a one stroke lead after the first round of the HSBC Women’s Champions on Thursday.
Korea’s Na Yeon Choi shot a 69, while world No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan finished the day in a group of four players with 70 to remain in contention at the Tanah Merah Country Club.
The 23-year-old Arimura, ranked 19th in the world, was steady throughout the round, shooting a 34 on the front and back with a total of five birdies.
“It has been a great day for me,” Arimura said. “I did well, especially my putting, so I have no regrets.”
Winds kicked up in the afternoon and the swirling gusts hurt scores.
“I don’t think we’ve ever played this course with this much wind,” said Australia’s Karrie Webb, who shot 70. “Some of the long par-4 holes played really long today.”
American Natalie Gulbis finished 1 under 71 in a group of six players, while Michelle Wie was 1 over after three bogies and two birdies.
Tseng is seeking her fourth straight title in as many weeks. She jumped to the top ranking while winning at the Australian Women’s Open and Australia Ladies Masters of the Ladies European Tour and last week’s LPGA Thailand.
“It was tough but I hung in there and I’m very happy about today,” said Tseng, who ended the front nine with three straight birdies but faltered with three bogeys on the back nine.
The $1.4 million Women’s Champions features a strong field that includes all of the 2010 major champions and last year’s LPGA tournament winners.