Futcher, Shin join Stanford in lead at HSBC

2/24/2012 12:40:34 AM

All three players sit at eight-under-par 136. Stanford fired a 66 in the opening round to take sole possession of first, and followed that Friday with a 70 on the Garden Course at the Tanah Merah Country Club.

The trio is three strokes ahead of Hee Young Park (68), 2010 champion Ai Miyazato (70) and world No. 2 Na Yeon Choi (71), who are at five-under 139 heading into the weekend. Jiyai Shin (70) headlines a group of six another shot behind at four-under 140.

Futcher and Shin are both in search of their first LPGA victories, while Stanford is trying to win for the first time since 2009.

Choi vaulted into first place thanks to an early run, during which she poured in three consecutive birdies from the second to move to seven-under and past Stanford. The American Stanford parred her first eight holes to stay at six- under.

But Choi couldn't sustain that kind of success and, in fact, went backward. She bogeyed seven and 10, and following a birdie at 13, Choi dropped another stroke at 15.

While Choi was struggling and Stanford was holding steady, Futcher made a run for the top of the leaderboard.

She was playing a group in front of Choi and two in front of Stanford, and played a bogey-free front nine. Birdies at two and four got Futcher to five- under, and another at the eighth gave her a share of first with Choi and Stanford.

But Futcher kept on going -- birdies at nine and 10 put her at eight-under and gave her a two-shot edge. However, Stanford managed to keep the pace. She also birdied the ninth and 10th to reach eight-under.

"To be perfectly honest, I was encouraged that midway through the front nine, nobody was making a huge charge," Stanford said. "So that helped me stay patient throughout the day."

Stanford briefly fell behind again with a bogey at the 13th, but made up for it with a birdie at 15. Meanwhile, Futcher birdied the 16th to move ahead, but her stay at nine-under was short. She bogeyed the 17th and parred the last to conclude her 67.

"I don't know about the other players' games, but I know that my short game is very sharp and my putting is very good, so I have extreme confidence in that right now," Futcher said. "Just looking forward to the weekend. Angela is one of my best friends out here, so it will be nice to play with her."

Jenny Shin birdied her way into the picture late in her round. She had posted a three-under 69 on Thursday and birdied her second, ninth and 11th holes Friday. After a bogey at 13, she ran off three birdies in a row to get to eight-under.

Her presence at the top of the leaderboard isn't much of a surprise, given how well Shin has played this season. She placed seventh at the Women's Australian Open and finished in a tie for ninth in Thailand last weekend.

NOTES: Futcher tied for eighth at the Women's Australian Open, then ended in a tie for 33rd in Thailand. While she has never won an LPGA event, Futcher tied for third at last year's Kraft Nabisco Championship...Defending champion Karrie Webb carded a second consecutive 72. She is in a tie for 27th at even- par 144...World No. 1 Yani Tseng shot a 72 on Friday, and is tied for 20th at one-under 143...Song-Hee Kim withdrew.