RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Michelle Wie West was again on a serious championship leaderboard Thursday on the ANA Inspiration. So was Shanshan Feng in her first event in 16 months.
Taking part in for the second straight week after a 21-month break, Wie West shot a 2-under 70, leaving her 4 strokes behind chief Patty Tavatanakit.
“Got here into the day like, ‘OK, no stress at this time, straightforward golf,” Wie West mentioned. “And the primary couple holes weren’t straightforward golf. I am simply completely satisfied to see my identify on the primary web page of the leaderboard. That is actually particular to me. Been a very long time since I’ve seen that.”
Feng birdied three of her final 5 holes for a bogey-free 67 within the morning. The Chinese language star hadn’t performed a aggressive spherical since November 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic and a latest visa delay.
“I used to be type of nervous final evening,” the 10-time LPGA Tour winner mentioned. “However I mentioned to myself, ‘Hey, it is OK. Take into consideration you are simply an previous rookie. The whole lot is new for you right here and simply don’t have any expectation. Strive your hardest, 100% on each shot and benefit from the course of.’ That was what I did, truly.”
She obtained a break on the par-3 seventeenth — her eighth gap of the day — when she hit a chip too onerous and it slammed towards the flagstick and in for birdie.
“I did have some luck on the course at this time,” Feng mentioned.
Wie West was within the second group off the tenth tee, opening to little fanfare with no spectators at Mission Hills for the fiftieth version of the occasion.
“It is positively bizarre. It would not have the identical vibe,” Wie West mentioned. “The primary tee was probably the most surprising one the place you do not stroll by a tunnel, do not have the grandstands actually shut by.”
Wie West first performed the occasion in 2003, tying for ninth at age 13.
“I’ve to say at this time was a bit like after I was 13,” Wie West mentioned. “I type of hit it in every single place and grinded a bit on the market. However that feels good. I believe that is type of how I play.”
Wie West three-putted for bogey on 10, almost aced the thirteenth for a birdie, and made three straight lengthy birdie putts on holes 10-12. She missed a 2-foot par putt on No. 6 and parred the ultimate three. Final week in Carlsbad, she missed the minimize within the Kia Basic with rounds of 81 and 74.
“Particularly after final week, it was actually good to see these putts roll in,” Wie West mentioned. “Put myself in some attention-grabbing spots at this time, however actually pleased with how I grinded it out on the market.”
Wie West married Jonnie West, the son of basketball nice Jerry West, in August 2019, and daughter Makenna was born final June. West is director of basketball operations for the Golden State Warriors.
“Having a child positively places a distinct perspective on all the pieces,” she mentioned. “I am extra excited to go residence and see her than I used to be about my spherical, to be sincere.”
Tavatanakit, the 21-year-old former UCLA participant from Thailand, closed with a birdie on the par-5 18th for a bogey-free 66. She reached all of the par 5s in two, birdieing three of them.
“It was a reasonably calm and stress-free day at this time,” Tavatanakit mentioned. “I simply caught to my recreation plan and did not get too grasping on the market. I do know it is a main, it is powerful, the course is actually powerful. I used to be simply being actually affected person and I used to be ready for putts to drop, and so they did on the again 9.”
Leona Maguire of Eire matched Feng with a 67 within the afternoon with the temperature within the low 90s. Triple-digit warmth was anticipated the subsequent three days.
Thai sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn have been at 68 with fellow afternoon starters Anna Nordqvist and Megan Khang.
“A little bit little bit of cloud cowl at this time stored it from being tremendous scorching,” Nordqvist mentioned. “The greens are actually agency so there are a number of pins you possibly can’t actually assault. You simply hit it in a spot the place you possibly can take a two-putt or get it up-and-down.”
Ariya Jutanugarn almost holed her second shot on the par-5 18th, then lipped out a 4-foot eagle strive.
Prime-ranked Jin Younger Ko, the 2019 winner who was unable to play the occasion final yr, was at 69 with defending champion Mirim Lee, Jessica Korda, Charley Hull, Jennifer Kupcho, Bronte Legislation, Georgia Corridor and Yuka Saso.
Previous champions Lexi Thompson, Inbee Park and Lydia Ko joined Wie West within the giant group at 70. Park received the Kia Basic on Sunday in her first begin of the yr.