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Lewis fires 9-under 63, opens three-shot lead in Thailand

The SportsXchange

Stacy Lewis shot a 9-under round of 63 to take a three-shot lead over Karine Icher after the first round of the $1.5 million Honda LPGA Thailand.

Lewis blistered the front nine of the Pattaya Old Course at Siam Country Club, making the turn at 6-under. The American got off to a hot start with an eagle on the par-4 third hole, holing out from 145 yards on her second shot. She also reeled off three consecutive birdies on holes five through eight.

Lewis' lone blemish on the round came with a bogey on the par-3 16th hole, but the reigning 2012 LPGA Player of the Year closed with consecutive birdies.

It was a quick rebound for Lewis, who tied for 15th at the season-opening event at the Australian Open last week.

"Coming off of last week I didn't hit it very well," said Lewis. "So to come out today and I really started hitting the ball solid early on. Holed out for eagle on No. 3 and from there, I don't know, that shot just really gave me the confidence to really start swinging at it. I think I missed two greens all day. I just had a ton of birdie putts and I even left a few out there. The fact that it could be lower - I'm not complaining."

Catriona Matthew, Inbee Park, Gerina Piller and Amy Yang are tied in third place at 5-under.

It's a fast start for Piller, a former "Big Break" contestant who currently sits in 13th place in the American standings for the Solheim Cup team. The top eight receive automatic spots in the competition later this year.

Piller was pleased with her play on the greens Thursday after switching putters from last week.

"It's almost like my putter knew that it was in time out," Piller said.

World No. 1 Yani Tseng, the two-time defending champion of the Honda LPGA Thailand, struggled to an opening-round 75, 12 shots back of Lewis.

Amateur Lydia Ko, who held at least a share of the lead for the first three rounds last week before finishing third, opened with a 3-under 67 - tied for 10th.

Yani Tseng's attempt at a three-peat in Thailand took a slight hit on Thursday when the No. 1 player in the Rolex Rankings opened the event with a 3-over 75. Tseng won here in 2011 and 2012.

Jiyai Shin is tied for 20th at 2-under following her season-opening victory in Australia.

Icher, who is ranked No. 33 in the world, also changed putters between events and realized immediate results.

"When something goes wrong, I think it's a good thing to just change it. Take a new feeling with a new club and go with it," she said. "I have exactly the same game. The game is good. Last week I played really well but I missed all of the putts. I'm happy because I improved my putting today and it's a good sign for the rest of the season."

Other Americans of note include Lexi Thompson (1-under, 26th place), Michelle Wie (2-over, 48th) and Paula Creamer (4-over, 59th).
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