Bader takes lead at LPGA LOTTE Championship
Honolulu, Hawaii (Sports Network) - With numerous highly ranked and top players in the field, Beth Bader came up with the best score Wednesday during the first round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship.
Bader fired a four-under 68 to take an unlikely lead at the first-year event, ahead of world No. 1 Yani Tseng and three others.
Now in her 12th season on the LPGA Tour, Bader has never won a title and is ranked 401st in the world. She is playing in her first event of the season and hasn't had many results recently -- in the 2010 and '11 seasons, she missed the cut in 18 of 23 events, and her best finish was a tie for 22nd.
"I mean, I want to be out here," Bader said. "I had some back issues that kind of hindered me a little bit. Trying to go through a couple swing changes because of my back. But, boy, yeah, I mean, I wish I could have played more events than I did. You got to grind through it, and hopefully it'll be a little different this year."
She made a good start Wednesday by managing the windy conditions at Ko Olina Golf Club, and sits at the head of a field that includes the top five players in the world, including Tseng, who has won three times this season.
Tseng carded a three-under 69 and shares second with world No. 7 Jiyai Shin, Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford, who won the HSBC Women's Champions in February.
Second-ranked Suzann Pettersen, fourth-ranked Cristie Kerr and Sun Young Yoo, who earned a playoff victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship three weeks ago, headline a group tied for sixth at two-under.
Inbee Park, Brittany Lincicome and Elisa Serramia also shot two-under 70 on Wednesday.
But Bader is in front of everybody for the moment, thanks to a nearly bogey- free round. Starting from the 10th tee, the 38-year-old parred her first seven holes thanks to a few up-and-downs.
Bader said she then became comfortable and made good swings with the driver, which in turn led to shorter iron shots and birdie opportunities. She began to cash in at the 17th with her first birdie, then rolled in another at the first to reach minus-two.
She used a run of three consecutive birdies, starting from the fifth, to rise to the top of the leaderboard and was suddenly two shots clear of the field. However, that cushion was short-lived, as a bogey at the ninth, her last, put her at four-under.
That round was still good enough for her to stay in first place, and it's not like Bader was the only one to have a bogey slow her momentum Wednesday.
Tseng looked like she was headed toward an extremely low round. She had drained four birdies in a five-hole span from the fifth to get to four-under heading around the turn.
But she stumbled to a bogey at 10 after hitting the ball in the water, and followed that bogey up with another at 11. Tseng then faced a tough 12-foot putt to save par at 12.
"If I make another bogey, I don't know what's going to happen," Tseng said. "But I save par there and make birdie next hole, so it's a good turn for me."
At the time Tseng entered the clubhouse with her 69, she was tied for the lead.
Stanford had a chance to match Bader's score. After recording three birdies and a bogey on the back nine, where she started her round, Stanford was putting together a clean front nine. Birdies at one and seven allowed her to reach minus-four, but like Bader, she bogeyed the ninth.
"Thought I got away with one today," Stanford said. "My putter bailed me out quite a bit, so to be upset about that last bogey, wasn't the putter's fault."
Stanford, a native Texan, said that she knew what to expect out of the windy conditions and it showed in her round. She wouldn't go so far as to say that she likes playing in that kind of wind, but because she grew up playing with it, she's not surprised on the course.
On the other hand, Lang called the wind "crazy." But, like Stanford, Lang didn't have much of a problem playing in the wind.
A two-time member of the U.S. Solheim Cup team, Lang had five birdies and two bogeys, crediting her success to good ball-striking.
"When you hit pure, solid shots, the wind does not affect it as much," Lang said. "I hit the ball really solid and gave myself a lot of chances and I putted really well with my new putter."
Shin, the 2008 Women's British Open champion, limited her errors to one bogey. She used consecutive birdies from the fourth to reach three-under, then parred out to stay near the top of a crowded leaderboard.
Behind the sixth-place group are seven players tied for 12th at one-under 71. Fifth-ranked I.K. Kim, Karrie Webb, U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu, world No. 8 Ai Miyazato, Sophie Gustafson, Candie Kung and amateur Hyo Joo Kim are in that group.
NOTES: Bader has five top-10 finishes in her career, with the last one coming in 2009. Her best career finish is a tie for fourth at the 2007 LPGA Corning Classic...The LPGA previously played at Ko Olina from 1990-95 and 2006-08. The last LPGA event the club hosted was the Fields Open, which Paula Creamer won in 2008.
04/19 02:24:34 ET