Rogers, AR – LPGA Tour rookie Veronica Felibert fired a 6- under 65 on Friday to take the first-round lead of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Shanshan Feng, less than a month from her major breakthrough at the LPGA Championship, carded a 5-under 66 and is alone in second at Pinnacle Country Club.
"I was still thinking I'm kind of a good player but maybe I'm still not good enough to win," said Feng. "But then that win, it gave me a lot of confidence that now I believe in myself. I'm good enough to win like more than one tournament."
Inbee Park, who lost a playoff last week to Brittany Lang at the Manulife Financial Classic, shot a 4-under 67 and is tied for third place with Karine Icher and Mi Jung Hur.
Two-time defending champion Yani Tseng's struggles continued Friday. After a tie for 59th at the LPGA Championship, she shot a 2-over 73 in round one and is tied for 76th.
Tseng, and everyone in the field, are looking up at a relative unknown.
Felibert started on the 10th tee Friday and, after a par at No. 10, birdied her next two holes. The Caracas native bogeyed the par-four 13th, but after a par at 14, she rattled off back-to-back birdies again, this time at 15 and 16.
Felibert parred three in a row around the turn and got to 4-under par with a birdie at the par-5 second. She recorded a par at the No. 3, then, for the third time in the opening round, picked up successive birdies at the fourth and fifth.
She parred her last four for first place.
"I think I was hitting the ball pretty good," said Felibert. "I remember just missing one green, just chipping once and just hitting fairways and greens. I've been working really hard on my putter. I just switched a week ago, so this will be my second week with the putter. I don't know, I'm feeling pretty confident and I would say that was what made the difference."
This is somewhat uncharted territory for Felibert.
After two years on the LPGA Symetra Tour -- the tour's developmental circuit -- she's making her fifth start of the year on the LPGA Tour, where she's made only one cut. Felibert never won on the Symetra Tour either, but had a few high finishes, so this isn't totally uncharted territory.
"Maybe I haven't been in this situation on the LPGA yet, but I played a few good tournaments last year, so I'm like kind of familiar," said Felibert. "It's not like all of a sudden I'm in this position."
Ai Miyazato, Ryann O'Toole and Anna Nordqvist are tied for sixth at 3-under 68.
NOTES: Felibert was the second alternate, but found out she got into the field Sunday night...Temperatures topped out at 100 degrees on Friday...Michelle Wie shot a 1-over 72 in round one...Lang posted a 2-over 73.