KAPOLEI, Hawaii — Beth Bader shot a 4-under 68 on Wednesday at windy Ko Olina to take a one-stroke lead over top-ranked Yani Tseng and three other players in the LPGA LOTTE Championship.
Winless on the LPGA Tour, the 38-year-old Bader birdied Nos. 5, 6 and 7 to reach 5 under, but dropped a stroke on the par-4 ninth — her final hole — with her lone bogey of the round played in 30-mph gusts.
“It feels good,” said the 401st-ranked Bader, making her first start of the year. “Been awhile since I’ve been here. Been awhile since I actually teed it up in an event. But it’s good.
“I practiced hard. I played some Grasshopper Tour events in Phoenix to get ready and keep going. So it was nice to be able to transition back into target golf, because I haven’t done that for a while. So, I’m very pleased.”
Tseng, the Taiwanese star who has won three of the first six events this year, was second along with HSBC Women’s Champions winner Angela Stanford, Jiyai Shin and Brittany Lang.
“Overall, I stay patient and I make lots of good putts,” Tseng said. “I still miss some, but I hung in there. It’s only first day of the tournament, so I’m pretty happy today. Still on the leaderboard, still can see my name up there, so very happy.”
Tseng played the front nine in 4-under 32, then bogeyed the first two holes on the back.
“I hit it in the water on No. 10, so made bogey there,” Tseng said. “I made another bogey on No. 11 hole, kind of a short hole. … On No. 12, I made a tough 12-footer for par. I think that’s the big turning point for today. If I make another bogey, I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I save par there and make birdie the next hole, so it’s a good turn for me.”
Stanford also bogeyed her final hole. The Texan won the last LPGA Tour event played in Hawaii, overtaking Michelle Wie in the 2009 SBS Open at Turtle Bay.
“Flying over, all those positive memories came flooding a back,” Stanford said. “I love Hawaii. I love being here. I love just the atmosphere, the people. It is always windy, usually, so I’m just comfortable.”
Lang, also from Texas, had only 24 putts.
“That wind is crazy,” Lang said. “I hit the ball fantastic. When you hit pure, solid shots the wind does not affect it as much. I hit the ball really solid and gave myself a lot of chances and I putted really well with my new putter.”
Sun Young Yoo, coming off a playoff victory over I.K. Kim on April 1 in the Kraft Nabisco, was two stroke back at 70 along with Suzann Pettersen, Brittany Lincicome, Cristie Kerr, Elisa Serrama and Inbee Park
Kim, devastated by a missed 1-foot putt on the final hole of regulation in the Kraft Nabisco, shot a 71.
Wie had two early double bogeys in a 78 that left her 10 strokes back. She has missed the cuts in her last two starts.
The tournament will end Saturday so it can be broadcast Sunday morning in Asia and Saturday night in prime time on the East Coast.