PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Lexi Thompson and South Korea's Meena Lee shot 6-under-66 on Thursday to share the first-round lead in the LPGA Championship, the fourth major championship of the season.
Thompson, the Kraft Nabisco winner in April for her first major title, and Lee each made eight birdies and a pair of bogeys at Monroe Golf Club to finish a stroke ahead of ahead of Brittany Lincicome, Lisa McCloskey of Colombia and Jennifer Kirby of Canada.
Shanshan Feng of China, the tournament winner two years ago, was tied for sixth at 68 with 2010 champion Cristie Kerr.
Catriona Matthew of Scotland, runner-up a year ago to South Korea's Inbee Park, was tied at 69 with seven other players. Park was at even-par 72, one shot better than Paula Creamer and Karrie Webb.
Top-ranked Stacy Lewis, a three-time winner this year, started on the back nine and birdied three of the first five holes, then faltered with three straight bogeys before the turn. She finished at 71.
Locust Hill had LPGA's host in the Rochester area for 37 straight years before the tour made the switch this year to nearby Monroe and moved the date from June to August. The Donald Ross-designed course is about 300 yards longer at 6,717 yards and does not have a single water hazard, but it does feature 106 bunkers, more than double the number at Locust Hill, and they're deeper.
The par 3s are longer, too, at 183, 193 and 207 yards, but the wider fairways favor long hitters like Thompson, who led the LPGA coming in with an average of 271.2 yards off the tee. A course made soft by recent rain only made that edge even larger, as did a stiff wind.
"I would say it (driving) was an advantage," said the 6-foot-1 Thompson, who had slumped in her previous four outings, missing one cut. "You just have to hit it straight. Doesn't matter what club you're hitting."
Not a problem on a cool, cloudy, breezy day as the LPGA marks the end of its long run in the Rochester area. Thompson used driver on 14 holes and birdied all four par 5s. And she was accurate, hitting 10 of 14 fairways and reaching 16 of 18 greens in regulation. Consecutive three-putt bogeys on the back side were the only blemishes on a round that reached 7 under with a birdie on the par-5 14th hole.
"It's all about confidence," Thompson said. "You just have to go into every shot just telling yourself you're going to pull it off."
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