Yani Tseng birdied five of her last six holes for a one stroke lead after the first round of the CN Canadian Women's Open in Vancouver.
The world number one carded a 66 and were it not for a double bogey at No. 1, her 10th hole of the day, Tseng could have threatened Dawn Coe-Jones' tournament record 64 shot in 1993 at London Hunt and Country Club.
"I should've chipped out but it went over the tree," said Tseng. "I'll never do that again. I know I could have been a couple of shots better if I don't have that double."
Tseng started the season by winning three of the first five events before going into an uncharacteristic slump which saw her miss three of five cuts and post a finish no higher than a tie for 50th. This week's event is a homecoming of sorts for the Taiwanese golfer, who captured her first professional victory at Vancouver Golf Club in 2007. Now she's hoping the Coquitlam, B.C. course can help jump start the rest of her season.
"I wish I didn't finish today. I wish I could keep going, keep playing. I'll try to keep the momentum going... but [Friday] is going to be a new day."
Na Yeon Choi is one stroke back after setting the pace in a morning wave which was hampered by intermittent rains that helped soften up the course. Her round of 5-under 67 included seven birdies and a pair of bogeys.
"I didn't expect low scores on this course," said the reigning U.S. Women's Open champion who is going for her second win in five starts. "I just tried to stay calm because there was a lot of rain. I felt the rain helped to make the greens softer."
Fellow South Korean Inbee Park carded a 4-under 68 to sit two back. Park, singled out by Canada's Lorie Kane on Wednesday as one of the players who could excel on this course, birdied two of her first four holes and added back-to-back birdies for her fifth sub-70 opening round in the last six starts.
"Starting low, you just put yourself in a really good position going into the weekend," said Park, who came into the Canadian Open with a win, a third and a tie for second in her last three events. "I don't really think about this is my eighth week in the top 10 or seventh week in the top 10. I've been hitting it really god and putting it really good, so I think that helped."
Lydia Ko, the 15-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander who won the U.S. Women's Amateur two weeks ago, birdied her final hole to get to 4-under par as well.
"I've played a few professional events, but this is my third LPGA event," said Ko who became the youngest player to win a pro event in January when she won the New South Wales Open in Australia at age 14. "Everyone is here - the world's best are here. It's good that I played good along with them."
Kane of Charlottetown was the top Canadian a day after saying she was not ready to relinquish her role as the nation's torchbearer for women's golf. She retained her torchbearer status by rolling in a birdie putt from about eight feet on the final hole.
"I played a good round for most of the round," she said. " I played some pretty good golf. A couple of things kind of got away on me."
Jessica Shipley of Oakville, Ont., was the second-best Canadian with a 1-over 73. Shipley was one shot better than American star Michelle Wie, who after three-putting on the final hole, cursed and threw her putter. She found herself in a tie for 100th after finishing second in this tournament last year in Montreal and winning it in 2010 in Winnipeg.
"I tapped in and I missed and, on that last one, I didn't feel too good ... But other than that I had a really solid round," said Wie.
Her show of frustration generated considerable buzz. Kane called for people to be fair with Wie, predicting the former teen phenom will fare better on the tour now that she has graduated from Stanford and can devote herself to a regular golf routine.
"The LPGA needs Michelle to be playing well, because she moves the needle," said Kane. "If Tiger (Woods) moves the needle on the men's side, Michelle moves it on this side."
Augusta James of Bath, Ont., Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Ont., Rebecca Lee-Bentham of Toronto and Kirby Dreher of Fort St. John, B.C., all opened with 3-over 75s while Isabelle Beisiegel of Sainte-Hilaire, Que. finished with back-to-back bogeys for a 76.
Jisoo Keel of Coquitlam, B.C., Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C., and 14-year-old phenom Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., struggled to shoot 5-over 77. Henderson admitted that while she did feel some nerves, she also felt like she belonged out there.
"There are definitely things that I can learn," she said. "I'm going to take this experience so I can feel more comfortable in later years."
Natalie Gleadall of Stratford, Ont., finished up bogey-bogey for a round of 78; Christine Wong of Richmond, B.C., shot 79; Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont., posted an 80; Sara Maude Juneau of Fossambault, Que. opened with an 81; and A Ram Choi of Surrey, B.C., who qualified for this event on Monday, finished with an 84.
No Canadian has won the tournament since Jocelyne Bourassa in 1973.
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