Becky Morgan shot an 8-under-par 64 in cool, rainy conditions Thursday to take a three-stroke lead over Lorena Ochoa after the opening round of the Rochester LPGA.
Ochoa closed with three straight birdies for a 67, one ahead of Maria Hjorth (68) and two in front of 2003 U.S. Women's Open champion Hilary Lunke (69). Se Ri Pak, Christina Kim, Laura Diaz and Rachel Hetherington were at 2 under.
Cristie Kerr, second on the money list behind Annika Sorenstam, withdrew after six holes because of a knee injury. Sorenstam skipped the tournament to prepare for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Cherry Hills.
Morgan is a two-time runner-up in Rochester who has struggled this season. Her best finish in 2005 is a tie for 27th at the season-opening SBS Open in Hawaii.
Ochoa, 23, capitalized on the smooth-running greens at soggy Locust Hill.
"The greens are not as fast as they usually are, and you have to take advantage of that," Ochoa said.
Rain coursed down throughout the day and the temperature never climbed above 64 degrees. The overcast conditions reminded Morgan of her home in Monmouth, Wales, as did the old-style course with its tight, undulating fairways and compact greens -- suitable for short but accurate hitters like herself.
Morgan led the tour in driving accuracy in 2003 at 83.4 percent and is eighth this year at 82.9 percent. But the 5-foot-2 graduate of North Carolina Greensboro lags on distance, averaging 233.5 yards this year, 151st on tour.
She had a round of nine birdies and just one bogey, finding her touch with a new putter. Starting on the back nine, she opened with three birdies, bogeyed No. 14, but canceled that out with a birdie at No. 17. After the turn, she ran off five consecutive birdies starting at the third and made a 40-foot putt on No. 6.