CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) - Paula Creamer easily overcame tricky morning wind conditions Thursday in the Kia Classic for a share of the first-round lead with Mariajo Uribe.
Creamer and Uribe shot 5-under 67 at Aviara to finish a stroke ahead of Cristie Kerr, Shanshan Feng, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Mi Hyang Lee.
“It was swirling a lot,” Creamer said about the wind. “It was pretty inconsistent at spots out there, but you just kind of have to trust your wind map or trust and see what’s going on out there.”
A playoff winner March 2 in Singapore, Creamer had six birdies and bogeyed the par-4 15th - her sixth hole of the day - after her approach plugged in the face of a bunker.
“I played pretty solid,” Creamer said. “I had one bogey, but I gave myself a bunch of opportunities and putted really well, made some good two-putts. I think it’s an advantage playing early in the morning and I wanted to take that advantage.”
In Singapore, she made a breaking, downhill 75-foot eagle putt on the second extra hole to beat Azahara Munoz.
“It’s funny,” Creamer said before the round. “Every time I walk down the putting green, (players) go, ‘Oh, the green’s not big enough for you.’”
The victory ended a 79-event drought dating to the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open.
“It’s beneficial any time to win, but for me, it definitely has made this season, a lot sweeter, that’s for sure,” Creamer said. “It’s made me believe even more in what we’re doing with my golf swing. All those hard times that I’ve been struggling with the last couple of years, it just kind of puts a cap to it and all and just shows what perseverance is all about.”
Uribe, from Colombia, birdied Nos. 2-5 and 11 in her bogey-free afternoon round.
“I took advantage of the first couple of holes where the greens weren’t that bad,” said Uribe, who finished in fading light. “It was just a rush at the end. You don’t want to come at 5 a.m. to warm up and play one hole. I just tried to stay calm.
She pared the par-4 18th, but had to squint on the green to do it.
“It was really hard to see if it was uphill or downhill,” she said. “I just wanted to make a par and get out of here.”
The former UCLA player won the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Top-ranked Inbee Park, preparing for her title defense next week in the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, was two strokes back at 69 along with Munoz, Lexi Thompson, Lizette Salas and Tiffany Joh.
“My ball-striking was great,” Park said. “I hit almost probably every fairway and every green and I probably hit everything inside 15 feet. Didn’t hole anything. …
“Today was like the day I could have gone 10 under, but still in the 60s. That’s all right. Three more days, keep the ball-striking like this week and next week and I think it’ll be good.”
Thompson had four birdies and a three-putt bogey.
“It was a pretty consistent day,” Thompson said. “Could have dropped a few more putts coming in, but overall I played very solid, so I’m happy with it.”
Third-ranked Stacy Lewis shot 73, and 16-year-old Lydia Ko had a 74.
Karrie Webb, coming off a victory Sunday in Phoenix in the JTBC Founders Cup, had a 75. The 39-year-old Hall of Famer also won the Women’s Australian Open last month.
DIVOTS: Kia endorser Michelle Wie shot 70. … Second-ranked Suzann Pettersen withdrew because of a balky back. … Defending champion Beatriz Recari had a 71. Last year, the Spaniard, won with an 18-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the second hole of a playoff with I.K. Kim. There’s a plaque commemorating the Recari’s winning putt at the spot she hit from. “Anything that brings you a good vibe and positive feeling is always good,” she said. … Yani Tseng also shot 71. She won the 2012 tournament for the last of her 15 tour titles and has dropped from first to 46th in the world in a year.
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