Lewis claims early lead at suspended U.S. Women's Open

Pinehurst, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Stacy Lewis carded a 3-under 67 on Thursday to claim a 1-stroke lead before the opening round of the U.S. Women's Open Championship was suspended due to threatening weather.

Lewis, the top-ranked player in the world and defending Women's British Open champion, has already earned a pair of victories this season at the North Texas LPGA Shootout and ShopRite LPGA Classic.

"Once you get one under your belt, it's contagious, you just want to win more and more," Lewis said about winning majors. "I just have geared my game towards majors. I love it when it's hard. I love it when you have to grind. I love it when you have to make 8- and 10-footers for par. It suits me and my game."

LPGA LOTTE Championship winner Michelle Wie is alone in second place at 2- under 68.

So Yeon Ryu, the 2011 U.S. Women's Open champion, Katherine Kirk and amateur Minjee Lee are the only other players in red numbers at 1-under 69.

Former U.S. Women's Open winners Karrie Webb and Paula Creamer carded matching even-par 70s at Pinehurst No. 2 to share sixth place.

Candie Kung, Mina Harigae and Stephanie Meadow are also at even par, but will have to complete their first rounds when play resumes at 6:45 a.m. ET Friday. Kung is through 17 holes, while Harigae and Meadow have each completed 16.

U.S. Women's Open champions Juli Inkster, Na Yeon Choi and Eun-Hee Ji, and Kraft Nabisco Championship winner Lexi Thompson are among a group of 11 players tied for 11th place at 1-over 71.

Defending champion Inbee Park posted a 6-over 76 during her opening round and is tied for 77th place. Park's 76 tied her worst round of the season.

"I think it's probably beyond disappointment," Park said about her round. "I didn't feel like I played horrible, but the score is bad. So it's so easy to make a lot of big numbers here."

Also at 6-over is Lydia Ko and 2008 champion Cristie Kerr.

Lewis started on the back nine and parred her first four holes before rolling in about a 15-foot birdie putt at the 14th to move into red numbers.

She then stuck her approach at the 16th to six feet and converted that birdie effort to reach 2-under.

After parring the next nine holes, Lewis moved to 3-under with an 8-foot birdie putt at the eighth. She parred the last to close out her bogey-free round and claim the clubhouse lead.

"It was such an easy day. I played really, really solid, other than I had to make a few par putts, I ran some putts by, got them above the hole," Lewis said. "But other than that I didn't put myself in too bad of spots and made a few birdies, which was nice."

Lewis' lead was challenged several times during the afternoon, but no one was able to hold on to leave her alone atop the leaderboard.

The first to take a run at Lewis was Dori Carter, who raced out of the gate with birdies at the 10th, 12th, 13th and 14th around a bogey at the 11th to grab a share of the lead.

She would par the next three holes before tripping to a double-bogey 6 at the 18th to fall behind. She would go on to bogey the first and second to drop to even par and never threatened again.

Marissa Chow was next as the amateur posted consecutive gains at the first and second, and again at the fifth and sixth to claim the outright lead at minus-4.

Chow, however, then posted three straight double-bogeys from the eighth to fall well off the pace.

Wie, meanwhile, followed a birdie at the second with bogeys at the fifth and seventh to make the turn at 1-over.

She caught fire around the turn with birdies at the 10th, 12th and 14th to pull within a shot of Lewis, but tripped to a bogey at the 16th to dip back to 1-under.

Wie then stuck her approach at the 18th to about five feet and converted that birdie putt to finish alone in second place at minus-2.

"You know, I'll take it, any round under par, I'll take it," said Wie. "It was a grind out there today. It will probably be a grind the next three days, but I'll take it."

NOTES: Lewis has now shot 12 straight rounds under par and eight consecutive rounds in the 60s ... Wie, who is making her 13th career start at the U.S. Women's Open, recorded her lowest opening round at the championship ... Thirty-five players still need to finish their opening rounds ... Eleven-year- old Lucy Li carded an 8-over and is tied for 111th place along with two-time major winner Suzann Pettersen. Li is the youngest qualifier in the championship's history.

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