Waterloo, Ontario – Sandra Changkija fired an 8-under 63 to jump to the top of the leaderboard Thursday, but the first round of the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic was eventually suspended because of lightning and rain.
With storms closing in on Grey Silo Golf Course and lightning in the area, play was halted Thursday afternoon and called for the day at 6:30 p.m. (et). The tournament, which is new on the tour this year, is scheduled to pick back up Friday at 8 a.m. with the second round to start at 10 a.m. Because of the lengthy stoppage, many players have yet to complete their rounds.
Changkija, however, had the benefit of being in the first group off the 10th tee in the morning and posted her best score of the season. The LPGA Tour rookie has missed the cut five times in seven events, but is now at the head of the field, let alone on pace to see the weekend.
Shanshan Feng, won broke through for her first victory at the LPGA Championship two weeks ago, carded a 5-under 66 and shares second place with Anna Nordqvist. The Swedish Nordqvist was minus-5 through 13 holes before play was stopped Thursday.
Suzann Pettersen, Karin Sjodin, Angela Stanford and Lacey Agnew all shot 4- under 67 and are tied for fourth.
Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson are among those who still have yet to complete their rounds. They were both minus-2 through 12 holes.
Changkija parred her first six holes, but got below par with a birdie at the 16th, then made it to minus-2 with another at the 18th.
The Virginia native drained her third birdie at No. 2, then caught fire two holes later. She ran off five consecutive birdies to soar up the leaderboard, then parred her last to head into the clubhouse as the early leader.
Changkija, who was a four-time player of the year while competing for Division II Nova Southeastern University, said her birdies were a mixture of hitting close approaches and sinking long putts.
"My ball striking's been good, you know, for most every tournament I've played in. I just missed a few fairways here and there," said Changkija. "I've been keeping up with my ball striking and just needed to make some good strokes."
Feng started from the first tee and continued showing the kind of form that won her a major title. She birdied the second, sixth and eighth holes during a clean front nine, and reached 5-under with birdies at 12 and 14.
A bogey at the next hole slowed Feng, but she rebounded with a birdie at the last.
Despite a few bogeys of her own, Nordqvist was making good progress until play was halted.
She rolled in back-to-back birdies from the 11th, and dropped a stroke at 14 before getting it back at 15. The Swede birdied three in a row around the turn, starting with the 18th, to reach minus-5.
A bogey at three knocked her back, but she again answered immediately with a birdie at four.
Nordqvist is the only player in the top 11 who has yet to complete her round. Pat Hurst, Jodi Ewart, Katie Futcher and Mindy Kim all got in rounds of 3- under 68 and share eighth place.
NOTES: Every player in the morning wave finished, while nobody in the afternoon wave completed 18 holes...Cristie Kerr and Thidapa Suwannapura did not start. Isabella Beisiegel and Kirby Dreher took their places in the field.