Suzanne Pettersen carded a four-under-par round of 68 to open up a one-stroke lead at the Kapalua LPGA Classic yesterday.
Seeking her first American win of the season, Pettersen birdied three of her final four holes to move ahead of Brittany Lang and Tracy Hanson.
Pettersen has tasted victory twice this season but both were on the European LPGA Tour as she captured Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open and the Irish Ladies Open.
“I’ve been close over here,” said the 27-year-old Norwegian, who has seven top-10 finishes this year including a third-place showing two weeks ago at the Samsung World Championship.
“I just haven’t quite caught up but I know that if I am patient and I play well, I’m capable of winning – and that’s the most important thing.”
Starting on the back nine, Pettersen recorded a pair of birdies to card a 33 at the turn before picking up four more shots on the front nine to go with a bogey at the par-four seventh.
Pettersen holds a slender advantage over Lang, who shot a three-under 69.
The 23-year-old Lang, who is seeking her first career Tour win, sank five birdies against two bogeys at the 12th and 17th.
“I played great,” Lang said. “I didn’t think it played that tough. I had a lot of changes on the back nine, my front nine.
“Even on 12, I hit a great eight-iron but with the wind swirling, you just pick a club, hit it and see what happens.”
Tracy Hanson recorded just one birdie in a bogey-free round but notched a hole-in-one at the par-three 12th to draw level with Lang at three-under.
“It was a seven-iron from 156 yards,” Hanson said of her hole-in-one. “It hit, kind of bounced right and then I looked away and one of the caddies said, ’I think that went in’ and I said ’No, no one is cheering.’
“But the wind was blowing so hard, we couldn’t hear the cheering. I already had my putter in my hand.”
Anna Rawson is one of six players tied for fourth at two-under 70 and like Lang, the 27-year-old Australian is seeking her first win on the Tour.
“It was interesting,” Rawson said of her round. “I just kind of got it around. I got it in the right positions, didn’t make many mistakes. I like the greens. I think they are really easy to read.”
Rawson is in a group that contains Ji Young Oh, Kristy McPherson, Laura Diaz, Brandie Burton and Sun Young Yoo.
Annika Sorenstam, who will retire at the end of the season, carded a terrible first round and is tied for 99th after recording a five-over 77.
World number one Lorena Ochoa also has her work cut out as she sits at two-over.