Azahara Muñoz of Spain and Ai Miyazato from Japan opened with five-under-par rounds of 67 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, southern California on Thursday, to lead by one at the ANA Inspiration, the first Major of the year.
Muñoz was six-under-par through 17 holes in the afternoon before dropping a shot on 18 after finding herself with a tricky bunker shot across the green protected by the world famous Poppie’s Pond in a stiff afternoon breeze.
However the Solheim Cup star was most pleased with her positive attitude throughout the round. “I kept it super calm out there. I really enjoyed it. It’s so nice to play with Lizette. When you get a pairing like that, it’s just nice. We had such a good walk, and I never got upset no matter what. I actually didn’t hit my driver really well, so I put myself in not the best positions, but I just took what I got and made the best of it, and I’m really proud of myself for that.”
Miyazato is also superbly placed in the hunt for the title and $390,000 first prize. The former world number one recently changed the loft of her putter by two degrees and had her first top 10 in two and a half years.
She said: “My putting has been really good since the beginning of the season and now I’m really glad to see the results.”
Catriona Matthew, Shiho Oyama and Lee-Anne Pace are only one stroke back on four-under-par while Charley Hull and Caroline Masson are both on two-under and part of a group sharing 14th place.