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Park Sets Pace at Kia Classic


Former UCLA player Jane Park carded a 6-under 66 to take the opening-round lead in the $1.7 million Kia Classic. The LPGA Tour event started Thursday at 6,593-yard Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, Calif.

The 26-year-old from Chicago in search of her first win started off hot, with four birdies on her first six holes on the front nine, before adding two more on the back in her bogey-free round.

Park has a one-stroke lead over Sweden's Caroline Hedwall and Aussie Karrie Webb, and is two ahead of Italy's Giulia Sergas and Jessica Korda of the U.S.

Park took advantage of balmy conditions at the course along Southern California's Pacific coast, a place she has an affinity for. "The weather was fantastic today, like it always is in San Diego, and I just wanted to take advantage of that and the fresh greens this morning and fortunately I made a ton of putts today," Park told reporters. "I just love this style of golf course, so maybe that's why I played pretty well today."

Ten players shot 69s, including LPGA Hall of Fame member Se Ri Pak and Americans Paula Creamer, Amanda Blumenherst, Lizette Salas, Austin Ernst and Mo Martin.

Recently-crowned women's No. 1 Stacy Lewis had a 70 and is four strokes back with three rounds to go. Lewis, who won the Tour's last tournament, the Founders Cup in Phoenix to bypass Yani Tseng as the top-ranked female player in the world, told reporters she struggled in the first round.

"It was a little frustrating," Lewis said. "I definitely didn't hit the ball the way I would have liked today, but I made some really good putts and putted this type of greens better than I've ever putted them before. I'm excited about that but I've just got to work a little on the swing."

Tseng, the defending champion in the Kia Classic, was forced to withdraw per LPGA Tour rules after missing her pro-am tee time Wednesday.

Michelle Wie shot a 74 that included three birdies, a bogey and two doubles.

For all the scores, visit http://www.lpgascoring.com/public/Leaderboard.