PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Top-ranked Lorena Ochoa was able to overcome an unusual first round at the Safeway Classic to keep herself one stroke behind the leaders.
“It was different,” Ochoa said. “I didn’t hit very good my second shots to the green. I was missing greens and hitting it all over the place but I managed to finish under par and make a shot from the bunker and one chip in and one putt outside the green.
“It was a different way to do it, but I’m really happy the way I finished.”
Sophie Gustafson and rookie Ji-Young Oh had the lead at Columbia Edgewater Country Club after first-round 6-under 66s on Friday.
Ochoa won the Canadian Women’s Open in Edmonton, Alberta, last week. It was her second straight victory and fifth of the season. Her previous victory at the Women’s British Open was her first major title.
“I’m going to try very hard to get three in a row,” said Ochoa, who is from Mexico. “That would be very special.”
Ochoa finished with six birdies and a bogey. She threw up her arms after making a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th hole.
The 19-year-old Oh, from South Korea, had never shot a round so low. She sparred a bit with caddie Doug Wilbur over the length of her seven birdie putts, estimating one, on the par-5 10th hole, at three feet. He said it was more like seven.
“That’s how well she’s putting,” Wilbur said. “Everything looks so close.”
Leta Lindley and Angela Stanford were two shots back of the leaders with 68s.
Michelle Wie, playing in Portland on a sponsor’s exemption, continued her woes this season with a 79. Wie has made the cut just once in four previous appearances this year on the tour.
The 17-year-old has had trouble with her left wrist, but played down the injury’s impact on her round, saying she was a bit sore “but not bad.”
“I don’t know really what happened,” Wie said. “I felt like I didn’t shoot this bad.”
Defending champion Pat Hurst was 5 over on the 6,377-yard course near the Portland airport, where temperatures climbed into the mid-80s on Friday.
The largest gallery followed a group that included Hall of Famers Juli Inkster, Karrie Webb and Nancy Lopez.
Webb had the best round of the group with a 70, while Inkster shot a 75 and Lopez was among those in last place with an 82. All were treated to warm applause when they finished their round.
Lopez, who has 48 tour victories, is playing in her fifth tournament in a comeback bid. She has yet to make a cut.
“I hung in there for a little bit … but when you make those darn triples and doubles — they just kill you,” Lopez said. “But I never gave up. It’s just that every time I stand over a shot, I’m working on something.”
Ochoa also had a large contingent of fans in her gallery, including a pair that carried a large Mexican flag. A sponsor’s group of some 150 fans traveled from Guadalajara to watch her.