- The Washington Times - Friday, July 3, 2009

SYLVANIA, Ohio | Morgan Pressel was paired with the world’s top two players in the opening round of the Jamie Farr Classic.

She outplayed them both Thursday at Highland Meadows.

Pressel, Song-Hee Kim and Laura Diaz each shot a 7-under 64 to share the lead, one shot ahead of Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen on Thursday.

“It was a great pairing,” Pressel said after playing with top-ranked Lorena Ochoa and No. 2 Yani Tseng. “They’re both good friends, and they have a lot of fun.”

Pressel, ranked No. 37, laughed and added, “Even though I hit first all day.”

Defending champion Paula Creamer, who shot a personal-best and course-record 60 in last year’s first round, withdrew with a thumb injury moments before her morning tee time. She said in a statement that she hopes to play in next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa.

“This is an event I feel a very special bond with, and it’s disappointing not to be able to defend my title,” Creamer said.

Pressel finished runner-up in this event two years ago to five-time winner Se Ri Pak. She didn’t have a bogey and birdied four holes in a row late in her round.

Her 64 matched her best round since joining the tour in 2006. After bursting on the scene with a runner-up finish at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open, Pressel was considered a budding LPGA star and became the youngest player to win a major at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship.

She has won only once since and is trying to end that drought - as are her co-leaders.

“This is the best golf I’ve played in a while,” she said.

Kim, who is winless in 56 LPGA Tour events, twice birdied three consecutive holes during her round. Diaz hasn’t won in seven years but holed a wedge shot for eagle at the par-4 17th to move to the top of the leader board.

“I’ve been trying to get my swing going good again,” Diaz said. “I just really have spent a lot of time on those things. My putter happily surprised me today and led that ball right into the hole.”

Wie also could use a victory. Despite being in the LPGA spotlight since she was 12 and winning the Women’s Amateur Publinx a year later, she is winless since earning her tour card last year. She has three top-10 finishes in her seven starts this season.

She used her length off the tee to shoot her lowest competitive round since turning pro and rebounded from her only bogey to birdie two of her last three holes. Five of Wie’s seven birdies came on putts of 10 feet or less.

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