To hear Shanshan Feng tell it, the Chinese golfer had the good fortune to be paired with Amy Alcott in Thursday's opening round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Alcott, 58, is the
So Feng said she asked Alcott on the first hole, "Can you tell me the secrets about winning here?"
Feng declined to reveal Alcott's answers, but whatever she said helped Feng earn the tournament's first-round lead with a six-under-par 66 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage.
One shot behind her were Michelle Wie and Se Ri Pak of South Korea, who fired five-under 67s.
Amy Yang, also of South Korea, and 15-year-old amateur Angel Yin of Arcadia were two off the pace with 68s.
Feng, 24, has won one major, the LPGA Championship in 2012. But she has never finished in the top 10 in the Kraft Nabisco.
Feng said Alcott not only shared information about the golf course but also was her cheerleader.
"I made a bogey on 15 and she was like, 'OK, let's make two birdies back,'" Feng said of Alcott, who shot an 81. "I was like, 'Yes, ma'am.'" Feng then promptly birdied the par-four 16th hole.
Wie birdied the second hole and surged into contention with birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, an eagle at the par-five 11th and another birdie at the 12th to reach six under.
She then scrambled to save par at the next four consecutive holes before making bogey at the par-three 17th when she missed her three-foot putt for par.
Wie, 24, is the former teenage phenom who became one of the LPGA's best-known players but always faced questions about whether she has lived up to her early hype.
She has two wins on the
Wie has played well early this year with two top-10 finishes and, after her round Thursday, she said, "I'll take 67 here. I just felt comfortable out there today."
Inbee Park, the No. 1-ranked player and the tournament's defending winner, struggled to a 74.
Despite winning three of the LPGA's majors last year, Park early this season found herself in a quandary many weekend golfers can understand: She was unhappy with her putting so she opted to try a new putter.
"I haven't been putting good with any putter," Park said. "I just don't know what is wrong."
Yin tied for 55th at Mission Hills last year. Her round included bogeys at the 11th and 13th holes but both times the freshman at Arcadia High rebounded with birdies at the following holes.
Yin was asked whether she was nervous about meeting any of the LPGA's stars. "Michelle Wie," Yin replied. "If she sat next to me and said hi to me, I'd probably run."