Published February 27, 2014
Singapore – Singapore (SportsNetwork.com) - Karrie Webb continued her strong play as she opened with a 6-under 66 on Thursday and grabbed a 1-stroke lead after the opening round of the HSBC Women's Champions.
Webb won the Women's Australian Open two weeks ago for her 40th LPGA Tour title and shared 19th last week in Thailand.
Caroline Hedwall and Paula Creamer, who has three third-places finishes in the last six years at this event, share second place as they opened with 5-under 67s on the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club.
Angela Stanford, the 2012 champion, is one stroke back at minus-4. She was joined in fourth place by Teresa Lu. Azahara Munoz is alone in sixth after opening with a 3-under 69.
Women's world No. 1 Inbee Park carded a 2-under 70. She shares seventh place with Amy Yang, Danielle Kang, Gerina Piller and Caroline Masson.
Defending champion Stacy Lewis struggled to a 3-over 75, which left her tied for 43rd. Among those she is tied with were 2010 winner Ai Miyazato, Sandra Gal, Se Ri Pak and Jessica Korda, who celebrated her 21st birthday on Thursday.
Webb go off to a flying start with birdies at the first and third. After a par on the par-5 fourth, she converted back-to-back birdie chances to quickly move to minus-4.
The Australian ran off seven consecutive pars from the seventh to remain there. Webb knocked her tee shot within five feet at the par-3 14th and knocked that putt in for birdie and a share of the lead.
Two holes later, Webb's approach on the par-4 16th stopped three feet from the hole. She kicked that in for birdie and a 1-stroke lead. She closed with a pair of pars to lead by one.
"I find this course quite tricky to trust where you've got to hit it off the tee, and it leaves some challenging iron shots in from some long distances out on the par-4s," Webb explained. "For me, getting off to a good start really allowed me to settle in and trust my game plan for the rest of the day."
Hedwall, who became the first player ever to go 5-0 at the Solheim Cup last year, started with a birdie on the first. She came back with a birdie on No. 7 and remained at minus-2 as she carded six pars in a row from the eighth.
The Swede jumped into contention as she poured in three consecutive birdie chances from the 14th. She parred the last two to share second.
"I played very solid and I think in the beginning of the round, I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities," Hedwall said. "I started to get impatient, and so my caddie helped me a lot, just telling me to stay focused and stay patient and they will start to fall and they did on 14 and 16 and I actually holed quite long putts."
Creamer birdied the third, fifth and seventh to climb to 3-under. Around the turn, she birdied Nos. 11 and 13 to gain a share of the lead at minus-5. However, Creamer ended there as she parred the final five holes.
"The greens were fast, but I love fast greens and always have," Creamer said. "I feel like you have to just be a little more creative and that it's not just about banging the ball into the back of the hole."
NOTES: Webb shot 6-under without making a birdie on a par-5 ... The only past champion not in the field is the first winner, Lorena Ochoa, who has retired from the game.