Morgan Pressel sank a five-foot birdie putt on the final hole to shoot a bogey-free 5-under-par 67 and take a one-stroke lead over Ai Miyazato of Japan after the first round of the ANA Inspiration, the first LPGA Tour major of the year, on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage.
Pressel, who won the tournament when it was known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2007, birdied three of the last eight holes.
“I think I’ve matured over the course of my career, so when I was close to the lead out there, I knew there was a long way to go and I just had to keep it going,” said Pressel, who last won in the 2008 Kapalua LPGA Classic.
” … It’s a very special place and I have so many great memories here. I remember walking down 18 the first time I played here as an amateur. I love this area and it’s a great golf course. I always feel comfortable here.”
Miyazato, who has won nine times on the LPGA Tour but not since the 2012 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, had an eagle on the 11th hole to highlight her round and made her only bogey two holes later en route to a 68.
Juli Inkster, the 54-year-old from Los Gatos and San Jose State, holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole to finish off a 69 and was tied for third with Gwladys Nocera of Japan, who captured the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco last week for her 16th victory on the Ladies European Tour, and So Yeo Ryu of South Korea.
Charley Hull, the budding 19-year-old star from England, finished at 70 despite a bogey on her last hole, No. 9, and was tied for seventh with Austin Ernst and Na Yeon Choi of South Korea.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko was tied for 10th after a 71 that equaled Annika Sorenstam’s LPGA Tour record of 29 consecutive sub-par rounds, and defending champion Lexi Thompson was tied for 27th after a 72.