Mika Miyazato, still in search of her elusive first win on the LPGA Tour, fired a 7-under 65 on Friday to earn a share of the lead after one round at the Safeway Classic.
Miyazato was joined in first place by Sydnee Michaels, and the pair holds a one-stroke advantage over three players. Pornanong Phatlum, Evian Masters winner Inbee Park and Cristie Kerr are tied for third place after carding 6- under 66s at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.
This week's tournament is a 54-hole event, and Miyazato will head into the weekend with a good chance to contend for her first title on tour.
She is ranked 19th in the world, and has come extremely close to winning several times this season. She tied for third at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, then was a runner-up at both the LPGA Championship and Arkansas Championship.
The Japanese Miyazato put together a strong round Friday that included only one bogey. That mistake came at the sixth hole and dropped her to minus-2, but she started a run of four consecutive birdies at the ninth.
She was sitting at 6-under by the time she reached the 13th tee, and cooled down, managing five straight pars. But Miyazato also didn't make any mistakes in that stretch and ended her round with another birdie.
Michaels, a rookie on tour, began at the 10th tee and got off to a flying start, with four consecutive birdies. Another at the 15th put her at minus-5 heading around the turn.
The American began her front side with a birdie-bogey sequence, but drained two birdies in her final three holes to gain a share of first place.
The two are at the top of a tight leaderboard, which features 16 players separated by only three strokes.
Jee Young Lee, Brittany Lincicome, Alison Walshe and So Yeon Ryu -- last week's winner at the Jamie Farr Owens Toledo Classic -- share sixth place at 5-under.
NOTES: Suzann Pettersen, the defending champion, shot a 1-under 71 and is tied for 36th...World No. 1 Yani Tseng shot a 2-under 70 and is part of a group sharing 28th.