Stanford leads by 2 at HSBC Women's Champions

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By ALEX KENNEDY, Associated Press

SINGAPORE (AP) — Angela Stanford shot a 6-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the HSBC Women's Champions on Thursday.

The American started her round with a birdie on the 10th hole and added another on the 16th to make the turn at 2-under 34.

"Well it was a pretty good start, birdied 10 and hit it pretty close on 11, in the past I think I've struggled with that stretch right there, 10, 11, 12," said Stanford, who held a share of the HSBC first-round lead in 2010.

"So the fact that I hit some pretty solid shots off the bat kind of gave me some confidence throughout the round."

It showed on the back nine when she added birdies on Nos. 1, 2, 7 and the par-5 ninth, where she topped her second shot with a 3-wood before recovering to sink a 30-foot birdie putt.

"I can honestly tell you, I've never topped a shot and made birdie on the same hole," Stanford said. "That's a first, right?"

Her 66 was one shot shy of Lorena Ochoa's course record.

Momoko Ueda, Amy Yang, Na Yeon Choi, I.K. Kim and So Yeon Ryu were tied for second at 4-under. A group of seven was at 3-under at Tanah Merah Country Club.

Ueda overcame a double bogey on her first hole, the 10th, with three straight birdies on two separate occasions, Nos. 15-17 and Nos. 5-7.

"I had a good feeling today," she said. "My start was so bad, but I stayed patient."

World No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan battled elbow soreness in shooting a 71.

"Today it wasn't hurt, just sore," she said. "... Yesterday, when hitting driver and hitting shots out of the rough, it's very painful. But I did some ultrasound and ice and physio work, so it's getting much better."

She's seeking her second win of the year after her victory at last week's LPGA Thailand, where she overcame a seven-shot first-round deficit, and is seeking to add the Singapore crown to her already impressive collection of career titles.

Defending champion Karrie Webb of Australia shot an even par 72, while American star Michelle Wie shot a 79.

The 63-player field for the $1.4 million tournament includes 18 of the top 20 in the world rankings.

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