Published January 13, 2015
Jane Park fired a 6-under 66 on Thursday to grab a 1-stroke lead after the opening round of the Kia Classic.
Park, who is winless on the LPGA Tour, is playing her third event of the season. In her previous six rounds, she failed to post a round in the 60s.
Karrie Webb and Caroline Hedwall are one stroke off the pace at minus-5 at Aviara Golf Club. Giulia Sergas and Jessica Korda share fourth place at 4- under 68.
Paula Creamer and Se Ri Pak are among 10 players tied for sixth place at minus-3, while newly minted world No. 1 Stacy Lewis and Cristie Kerr are part of a group at 2-under 70.
Park played the back nine first and started with three pars in a row. After a birdie at the 13th, she again ran off three straight pars. Park birdied the par-5 17th to move to 2-under.
The 2004 U.S. Women's amateur champion caught fire around the turn. Park birdied the second and came back two holes later with a birdie on No. 4.
Park made it two in a row as she birdied the par-5 fifth. She moved to 6-under with her third consecutive birdie at the sixth. Park parred the final three holes to end there.
"Obviously I'm from here, but yeah, the golf courses here just really fit my eye," Park admitted. "I just love this style of golf course, so maybe that's why I played pretty well today."
Webb poured in four birdies in a 5-hole span from the fourth to quickly jump into the mix. After three pars in a row, she moved to 5-under with a birdie at the 12th.
The Australian stumbled to a bogey at the 13th, but atoned for that mistake with a birdie on the 14th. Webb closed with four straight pars to end one back.
"Tee to green was pretty solid. I only missed a couple fairways, a couple greens and made some putts, which is good in the afternoon on these poa annua greens, so it was a pretty solid round," Webb said. "I didn't really get myself in too much trouble, just one hole I missed a fairway and was in the deep rough, but other than that it was all right."
Hedwall started with birdie on the first and third. She poured in four straight birdie chances from the fifth to jump to minus-6.
Around the turn, she faltered to a double-bogey at the par-5 10th. Hedwall bounced back with birdies at the 11th and 13th, but tripped to a bogey on the 16th to dip back to minus-5. She closed with back-to-back pars to end there.
"I got off to a really good start and made a whole bunch of birdies on the front nine. I turned in 30 shots, which was really nice," said Hedwall, who put two balls in the water en route to double-bogey on No. 10.
NOTES: Yani Tseng, the 2012 champion, withdrew after missing her pro-am tee time on Wednesday ... Sophie Gustafson and Natalie Gulbis both withdrew before the start of the round ... Sandra Gal, the 2011 champ, is tied for 16th at minus-2, while 2010 winner Hee Kyung Seo is one back at 1-under 71.