Rancho Mirage, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Morgan Pressel fired a bogey-free, 5- under 67 in Thursday's first round and holds an early 1-shot lead at the first major championship of the season, the newly-named ANA Inspiration.
Pressel is seeking her second career victory at this championship as she also won here in 2007 when it was called the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Pressel has two LPGA Tour wins overall, with her other one coming at the 2008 Kapalua LPGA Classic.
Former world No. 1 and nine-time LPGA Tour winner Ai Miyazato, still seeking her first career major championship, is alone in second at 4-under 68 on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club.
Seven-time major winner and two-time champion at this event Juli Inkster headlines a group of four players tied at 3-under 69. Joining the 54-year-old in third are Gwladys Nocera, So Yeon Ryu and Alison Walshe.
World No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 1-under 71 in her first round, which tied her with Annika Sorenstam for the most consecutive rounds under par with 29. The 17- year-old Ko is tied for 10th.
Defending champion Lexi Thompson is one shot further back at even-par 72, tying her for 26th.
Pressel, playing in the afternoon pairings after the early groups struggled to shoot low scores due to high winds, began by making two birdies in her first three holes.
"I was watching this morning because it was on TV, and it looked very challenging out there," Pressel said. "This afternoon there was not much wind at all, a little on the front nine, but not nearly what it was in the morning."
The 26-year-old cooled off for a bit as she rattled off seven straight pars from four and made the turn at 2-under.
Two more gains in three holes at 11 and 13 tied Pressel for the lead with Miyazato. Pressel chipped in for her birdie on the par-4 13th.
Following a string of four straight pars from 14, Pressel rolled in a putt of around five feet for birdie at the last to take the outright lead at the end of day one.
"I kept the ball in play most of the day. I was never really in terrible position," said Pressel. "There are a lot of tight tee shots out here, and I was able to hit it where I wanted to so I'm just happy with the way I played today."
Miyazato played the back nine first and rolled in an eagle on the par-5 11th to get going early on. She gave one of those shots back two holes later with a bogey on 13, but made up for it with a gain on 18 after four straight pars.
Back-to-back pars on two and three gave Miyazato the outright lead at the time at 4-under before Pressel caught and surpassed her. Miyazato finished up with six straight pars to end one back.
Ko was very close to breaking her under-par streak as she played the back nine, her front, at 1-over with four bogeys and three birdies. The youngster responded on the closing nine with a birdie on two to get her back to even par.
She then stuck her approach on the par-3 eighth close and knocked it in for birdie to get under par. A par at the last sealed the deal for Ko.
"I started off well today, and then I kind of went on a bogey streak. So I was really busy trying to make some birdies and recover from some of my bad shots. So I really wasn't thinking about it, but ended up finishing under par," Ko said. "It's just pretty cool to tie Annika's record."
NOTES: Pressel's win at this event in 2007 made her the youngest LPGA major champion ever at 18 years old, a mark that still stands ... Miyazato has not won since earning two victories in 2012 ... Inkster, a 31-time winner on tour, last won a major title at the 2002 U.S. Women's Open. She won this event in 1984 and 1989 ... Inkster's last win was at the 2006 Safeway International.