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Sharp grabs early lead in Arkansas
Rogers, AK (SportsNetwork.com) - Alena Sharp fired a 6-under 65 on Friday to take a 1-stroke lead over U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie after the first round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Sharp, who is seeking her first win on the LPGA Tour, missed the cut in six of her previous 11 starts this season.
"Drove it well, wasn't really in the rough at all so I got to lift, clean and place (to get) a perfect lie almost every time," said Sharp. "Really didn't hit outside of 20 feet much, made a lot of putts. It was really simple. It was fun to just play and not be stressed and just relax and enjoy the day."
Wie shot a 5-under 66 five days after capturing her first major championship at Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday. She is tied for second place with Alejandra Llaneza, while So Yeon Ryu highlights a group of 10 players sharing fourth at 4-under 67.
Ryu was joined by Paz Echeverria, Jennifer Rosales, Pornanong Phatlum, Moriya Jutanugarn, Emma Jandel, Shanshan Feng, Gerina Piller, Caroline Hedwall and Ji Young Oh.
Defending champion Inbee Park shot a 2-under 69 at Pinnacle Country Club and is in a tie for 25th place.
Sharp opened her round with a par at the 10th and rolled in a birdie at the 11th.
After parring her next six holes, she reeled off four straight birdies from the 18th to jump to 5-under.
A bogey at the fifth dropped her back to minus-4, but she bounced back with consecutive birdies at the seventh and eighth to reach 6-under.
Wie recorded a birdie at the fifth among eight pars during her front nine to make the turn at 1-under.
She did the rest of her scoring on the back, starting with consecutive birdies at the 11th and 12th. She added two more gains at the 15th and 18th to finish a shot off the pace.
Not bad after a whirlwind week that inlcuded trips to New York for apperances on national TV.
"Definitely running on fumes right now but I'm excited to be here in Arkansas," Wie said. "I was really happy about this late afternoon tee time. Glad to sleep in, got my 12 hours of sleep, and hopefully I'll get to bed in about an hour and a half now."
Llaneza also went bogey-free in her opening round. She started on the back nine and converted birdies at the 13th, 15th, third, fifth and seventh to earn her share of second place.
NOTES: Sharp is making her sixth appearance at this tournament. Her best finish is a tie for 54th in 2009 ... Wie has missed the cut at this event the past three years following a second-place finish in 2010 ... Natalie Gulbis (hip) and Paula Creamer (thumb) withdrew prior to the start of the round. Creamer was replaced in the field by Kris Tamulis, but there was no alternate available to replace Gulbis.
06/27 21:26:37 ET
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