World No. 2 Suzann Pettersen fired a 4-under 68 to hold the first-round lead at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship in Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan on Thursday. Pettersen had six birdies and two bogeys on Thursday to take a three-stroke lead over Swede Caroline Hedwall, Americans Irene Cho and Alison Walshe, and Karine Icher of France heading into tomorrow's second-round. Pettersen won the event in 2012. In her past four events, Pettersen has two victories and two ties for third place. "It was a tough day out there, conditions were not great," said Pettersen of the gusty winds, mentioned by several players at the completion of the first round for increasing the degree of difficulty at Sunrise Golf and Country Club. "I've played this course in nicer conditions. Once the rain stopped, the wind picked up, so I mean, it's your pick, if you want rain or you want wind." Pettersen bogeyed the second but had back-to-back birdies at 5 and 6. Only five players finished play under par. The 13-time LPGA Tour winner claimed a three-shot victory at last year's Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, but she wasn't dealing with swirling winds. "I don't really feel comfortable around this place because the wind is all over, but I feel pretty good with my game," said Pettersen. "I feel my ball striking is pretty much where I want it to be. I've got to just be very clear on what I'm trying to do and step up and do it. I hit some great approaches on the back and I hit some good ones on the front." Pettersen has gained ground on Inbee Park, who leads in the Rolex Player of the Year race and LPGA Official Money List. "I work really hard on my game," said Pettersen. "I've said for a long time, I feel like my best game is ahead of me so I think I'm just about to kind of touch on where I feel like I should be and when I put down the work that I feel is needed and kind of trust what I do, I feel this is where I should be."
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- Suzann Pettersen