Jeong Jang was two shots in front of Paula Creamer after her record-tying 64 yesterday.
Jang’s field day
Nine birdies help the South Korean to a tourney record-tying 64 and the lead by two
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Michelle Wie had them talking early as she briefly led the $1.3 million Fields Open at Ko Olina, but Jeong Jang closed the show late with a near-perfect 64.
The South Korea-born golfer opened her round with a bogey, then reeled off nine birdies the rest of the way to equal the tournament record set two years ago by world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa.
It left Jang two shots in front of American Paula Creamer (66) and three strokes removed from Kelli Kuehne (67) and Angela Stanford (67) at the close of the first day of the second LPGA Tour event of the season.
Michelle Wie was five shots back after shooting 3 under.
Wie was part of a large contingent at 3-under 69, tied for 16th entering today's second round. She will go off in the afternoon after carding her first round in the 60s since she shot a 68 the last day of the Evian Masters in 2006.
Creamer, battling flu-like symptoms since last Friday, had a good closing round (69) at last week's SBS Open, something she built on for this week's second full-field event on the LPGA Tour.
Kuehne had only six pars for her round that included nine birdies, two bogeys and one double bogey. The long-hitting Stanford had one of 10 eagles recorded in near-perfect conditions at the Ko Olina Resort. Nearly a dozen golfers were tied for fifth at 4-under 68, including South Korean great Se Ri Pak, who had birdie, eagle, birdie on three consecutive holes to remain in contention.
Rising star Momoka Ueda of Japan struggled to an even-par 72 yesterday, leaving her eight shots back.
After first round:
|Se Ri Pak
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Jeong Jang shot an 8-under 64 yesterday afternoon for a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Fields Open.
Jeong Jang flew in the face of conventional wisdom that playing late in the day in swirling winds and on crusty greens is not a good thing.
After opening with a stellar 8-under 64 yesterday in the first round of the $1.3 million Fields Open at Ko Olina, the South Korean-born Jang would beg to differ. She had a bogey at her first hole, then managed nine birdies the rest of the way to equal Lorena Ochoa's course record set in 2006 to take a two-shot advantage over American Paula Creamer (66).
Jang is three strokes clear of Kelli Kuehne (67) -- whose round included nine birdies, two bogeys and one double bogey -- and Angela Stanford, who closed strong late in the afternoon as well.
Another 11 golfers are tied at 4-under 68, including South Korean legend Se Ri Pak. In all, 30 golfers are within five strokes of the lead, as 80 women shot par or better.
Jang gave the par-72 course its best shots. Using boxing training in the offseason to help shed 10 unwanted pounds, the 5-foot Jang was light on her feet en route to sinking three birdies of 1 foot or less thanks to her trusty lob wedge. The Florida resident followed the bogey at the 10th with four consecutive birdies to give the 2005 British Women's Open champ the confidence she needed to go low.
"I missed a 3-foot (par) putt at the first hole (No. 10) and that wake me up," Jang said. "(It was) pretty windy out there, but I hit really good tee shots there with the wind, and I made almost every putt, seems like, so I had a really good round. The wind didn't really bother me today."
Jang hit 13 fairways and 16 greens in regulation, needing only 26 putts to complete her round. She finished in a tie for 16th at last week's season-opening SBS Open at Turtle Bay after spending the offseason getting in shape.
"Boxing is really good training for working on sides, like abs," Jang said. "I'm hitting a little farther than last year. I like it because I don't have to think about golf when I'm training, so no stress. That helps me a lot."
Going off in the morning today should help Jang build on her lead as well. Creamer won't go out on the course until nearly 4 hours after Jang, giving the top-rated American golfer a good idea at what she needs to do to stay in contention.
Creamer is battling back from flu-like symptoms that ruined her chances at successfully defending her SBS Open title, but provided her the mental strength to be in this week's second stop on the LPGA Tour. The biggest factor for her yesterday was putting.
"I hit the ball really well last week at Turtle Bay, and I hit it decent today," Creamer said. "I had some close shots. But the biggest thing for me was just my confidence in my putting and being able to hole the 8-, 9-footers constantly gives me confidence."
Kuehne and Stanford played with a lot of confidence as well. Kuehne went as low as 6 under early in the day, before finishing her round with a double bogey, bogey, birdie to shoot a 67.
Much like last week, Kuehne could have done even better had she controlled the bad holes. In her first four rounds this year, she has an eagle, 20 birdies, 41 pars, seven bogeys and three double bogeys to be 9 under for 2008.
She was the first-day leader at the SBS Open last week, before a second-round 79 did her in. She still closed with a 66 on Saturday to finish in a tie for 12th at 4 under for the tournament.
Stanford, who has had good rounds in Hawaii the past few years, managed another yesterday with one eagle, four birdies and one bogey to move into contention. Like Jang, she will go off early today.