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Golf roundup

Pettersen opens in major fashion

Her 67 leads Ochoa by a stroke in Kraft

Stephen dunn/Getty Images On a mission at Mission Hills, Suzann Pettersen shook off a hip injury to grab the lead.
Stephen dunn/Getty Images
On a mission at Mission Hills, Suzann Pettersen shook off a hip injury to grab the lead. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Associated Press / April 2, 2010

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Suzann Pettersen shot a bogey-free 5-under-par 67 yesterday in the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Rancho Mirage, Calif., to take a one-stroke lead over former champion Lorena Ochoa, who missed birdie putts on her final two holes.

Ochoa, who teed off three hours after Pettersen in the opening round of the season’s first major, had chances to tie the Norwegian star but rolled a long putt just right of the hole on No. 17 and then missed a 10-footer on 18.

Pettersen had a great start by hitting 12 fairways and 13 greens in regulation. Top-ranked Ochoa, the 2008 champion, had six birdies and two bogeys.

Karrie Webb, Yani Tseng, and Karen Stupples were in a group at 69.

Defending champion Brittany Lincicome curled in a birdie putt on 12 to drop to 4 under before bogeying Nos. 13 and 15 to finish with a 70. Michelle Wie had a 71.

Pettersen has two top-10 finishes in three starts this year but is coming off a hip injury that required a cortisone shot and kept her from swinging a club for about three weeks.

“I thought I was going to have two solid weeks of practice. It turned out to be two solid weeks on the couch,’’ said Pettersen, who won the 2007 LPGA Championship and has three straight top-five finishes here.

Pettersen drove well, which is crucial at Mission Hills.

“It’s quite demanding off the tees, and there’s just certain tee shots you’ve just got to take on,’’ she said. “And I think if you can place it off the tee, I think you’re in a very good position. You’ve just got to play what this course gives you.’’

Tseng, who won the 2008 LPGA Championship, had an adventuresome round including an eagle, five birdies, and four bogeys.

PGA — Kevin Stadler and Cameron Percy each shot 5-under 67 to share the first-round lead in the Houston Open in Humble, Texas.

James Driscoll of Brookline and Vaughn Taylor — Stadler’s playing partners in a morning threesome — were a stroke back along with fellow morning starter Kevin Sutherland and Anthony Kim, who played in the afternoon when the wind picked up and gusted to 30 miles per hour.

Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, and 2007 champion Adam Scott topped a group two strokes back at 69.

Ernie Els, coming off consecutive victories at Doral and Bay Hill, opened with 70. Fred Couples, who has won three straight starts on the Champions Tour, shot a 71.

Several top players have come to Houston because they view the Tournament Course at Redstone as an ideal dry run for next week’s Masters. Organizers have groomed the 7,457-yard layout to simulate the conditions at Augusta National, with fast greens, shaved mounds, light rough, and the fairways mowed toward the tee.

Stadler, Driscoll, and Taylor, said they fed off each other, and they finished with six birdies apiece.

Taylor birdied five of his first eight holes, sinking a 47-footer on No. 3 and a 23-footer on No. 6. Driscoll made the turn at 2 under, then birdied three of his first five holes on the back nine to move within a shot of Taylor’s lead.

Stadler then surged to 6 under with four straight birdies on the back nine. He settled for a 67 after a bogey on the last hole.

“We had a good time out there,’’ Stadler said. “I was kind of kicking back, watching those guys make putts most of the day. I made a few late to kind of catch up to them.’’

Defending champion Paul Casey withdrew because of a left shoulder injury, and Vijay Singh pulled out with a back injury.