Rogers, AK – Mika Miyazato fired a 6-under 65 on Friday to grab a 1-stroke lead after the opening round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Miyazato, last year's Safeway Classic winner, shared second at this event last year behind winner Ai Miyazato, who is no relation.
Angela Stanford, the 2009 runner-up, and So Yeon Ryu opened with rounds of 5- under 66 at Pinnacle Country Club and they share second.
Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen are among 10 players tied for fourth at minus-4.
Mika Miyazato started her round with six pars in a row. She followed a birdie at the seventh with another at the ninth.
Around the turn, Miyazato converted back-to-back birdie chances at 10 and 11 to move to 4-under.
The 23-year-old Miyazato drained a birdie effort at the par-4 13th, then took the lead with a birdie on the par-3 15th.
"I had so many good shots today. Yesterday, I worked hard on short putts because I changed putters in the Bahamas," Miyazato explained. "So I practiced a lot yesterday and that gave me so much confidence today."
Stanford birdied the second before converting consecutive birdie tries at six and seven. After four pars in a row, she stumbled to her lone bogey at the 12th.
The five-time LPGA Tour winner bounced back with a birdie on the 14th. Stanford got within one of the lead thanks to birdies at 16 and 18.
"Today seemed to be fairly consistent ball striking wise. Then putting was pretty good, too. I just seemed to have a lot of opportunities, so those are good days," stated Stanford. "It seems like the fairways are firm and fast, which is usually good for me, but the greens are still kind of receptive and I thought the pin placements were pretty accessible today."
Ryu picked up her first two birdies at the fifth and seventh, but she gave a shot back with a bogey on the par-4 eighth.
The 2011 U.S. Women's Open champion poured in three straight birdies from the 10th to move to 4-under. Her final birdie in that run at 12 came after a lucky break when her ball barely stayed in bounds.
After five pars in a row, Ryu birdied the 18th to get within one of Miyazato.
"Today, my irons and putting were really great. I was a little disappointed with my tee shot today, but overall things were great," said Ryu. "I made a couple really good up and downs, so I'm really positive now."
NOTES: Miyazato's best finish this year was a tie for fourth in the Bahamas, the week she changed putters ... Defending champion Ai Miyazato stumbled to a 2-over 73, which left her tied for 96th after the first round ... Cristie Kerr withdrew after eight holes.