Grace Park had four straight birdies on the back nine in a 6-under-par 66 that put her in a tie for the lead with Kim Saiki and Silvia Cavalleri after yesterday's opening round of the LPGA Asahi Ryokuken International Championship in North Augusta, S.C.
Park was 4 under after just six holes in the LPGA's final full-field event of the year. She was even sharper during a stretch coming in, using strong approach shots for the birdie run that started on No. 12.
When Park gave back a stroke on 17, she recovered with a slithery downhill four-footer for birdie on the closing dogleg.
"I made a couple of mental errors that cost me a few strokes, but then came back strong," Park said. "I finished with the birdie, so I'm pleased."
Saiki got her first LPGA win at the Wegmans Rochester tournament in June and showed she was ready to contend again, chipping in for eagle on the par-5 16th at Mount Vintage Plantation.
Cavalleri needs a strong finish to keep her exempt tour status for next year and also had an eagle down the stretch.
Michelle Estill, Becky Morgan and Joanne Morley were one stroke behind the leaders.
Park says she played well the past two weeks -- just not on tour.
Tired and burnt out from five straight tournaments, Park took a break before the Asahi Ryokuken. Instead of keeping honed with buckets of practice balls, Park went out for relaxing, goofball rounds with friends.
She would shoot 5 and 6 under "without even trying," she said. "And why not do the same thing at tournaments?"
Park's back-nine blitz began with a two-putt birdie from 30 feet on 12. She made a five-footer for birdie on 13 and then a seven-foot birdie putt on 14. She closed the run by landing a 6-iron to 12 feet on the par-3 15th and making the putt.
"The course is in great shape and the greens are rolling well in conditions like today," Park said. "Perfect temperature. Last regular season tournament. Perfect opportunities."
* PGA: Harrison Frazar shot a bogey-free 64 to take his place among a crowded group at the top of the leader board at 8 under in the Michelin Championship in Las Vegas. Seven players shared the lead on a day when perfect playing conditions and a lack of wind made the three courses used in the tournament easy targets.
Two of those players, Danny Ellis and Jason Bohn, shot 63s, but their scores were on the par-71 TPC Canyons course while the others played the par-72 TPC Summerlin and Bear's Best layouts. Also tied at 8 under were Scott Verplank, Kent Jones, Steve Lowery and Billy Mayfair.
* EUROPEAN PGA: Graeme McDowell matched a course record with a 10-under 62 on the famed Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, to take the first-round lead in the Dunhill Links Championship. A former top collegiate golfer at Alabama-Birmingham, the Northern Irishman held a three-stroke lead over four players.