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Three share lead at Kraft Nabisco Championship

Na Yeon Choi, Suzann Pettersen and Jodi Ewart Shadoff shoot 68. Michelle Wie has a 72, one better than top-ranked Stacy Lewis.

April 04, 2013|By Diane Pucin

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The leaderboard after the first round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship was showing international colors Thursday.

South Korea's Na Yeon Choi, Norway's Suzann Pettersen and England's Jodi Ewart Shadoff were tied for the lead at Mission Hills Country Club after shooting rounds of four-under-par 68.

Meanwhile, down in a tie for 22nd place, Michelle Wie was displaying her own colors. Wie, who has made only one cut this year, dyed her hair pink, purple and turquoise and was happy with her even-par round of 72 at Rancho Mirage.

"I made two really stupid mistakes on the back nine," said Wie, 23. "But it feels good to know that I left a lot of birdie chances out there. It feels good to show I could have shot 66 out there."

Wie's 72 matched the score of her 15-year-old amateur playing partner, Lydia Ko of New Zealand.

Anna Nordqvist and Amy Yang were a stroke behind the leaders at 69. Among a group of 11 tied for sixth at 70 were Azusa native and USC grad Lizette Salas and UCLA graduate and Rancho Cucamonga resident Jane Park.

Salas, who played in the pro-am with boxer Oscar De La Hoya, said having that experience was "humbling." Salas said De La Hoya showed her how to be a fighter on the course. "He loves golf," Salas said. "He was telling me how a boxer's mentality can be incorporated into golf."

Ko, playing in her first U.S. professional tournament as well as her first major championship, seems to have that mentality already.

She birdied her very first hole in her very first major, the par-four 10th. After that, though, Ko said her putts weren't falling. "A few slipped by and I would say, 'Oh, man, not again.' I felt like I rolled it really well and that's all I can do."

Late last year Wie adopted a new putting stance. She bends over at an angle that makes her back appear as if it is a table top.

Asked if she liked her new stance, Wie laughed and said, "I do," and then said she expected the media to make fun of it.

American Stacy Lewis, who became ranked No. 1 in the world last month, struggled to a 73.

Lewis, who won this tournament two years ago, said she had some bad luck, having two shots land in divots. She also had a triple-bogey six on the par-three 14th hole and at the end of the round, Lewis said, she felt lucky to be where she was.

"You can shoot a good number one day and be right there near the top," Lewis said. "I drove really well today. I made some putts. My game is there, it's just getting a few things to go my way."

Neither Choi nor Pettersen had a bogey Thursday.

"The course was perfect," said Pettersen, a three-time runner-up here and a first-round leader in 2010. "The greens are rolling pure. But if you miss the fairways you can be in a bit of trouble. The rough is deep."

Choi also said she was pleased to get away from the first round without a bogey. "Luckily I played in the morning," Choi said. "The greens and fairways are a little softer than afternoon, I think."

diane.pucin@latimes.com

Twitter: @mepucin

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