Japan's Ai Miyazato takes early lead in ANA Inspiration

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) Ai Miyazato birdied four of the first six holes and shot a 5-under 67 in perfect morning conditions Thursday to take the early lead in the ANA Inspiration.

Miyazato closed with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Mission Hills to pull a stroke ahead of fellow Japanese player Shiho Oyama, Scotland's Catriona Matthew and South Africa's Lee-Anne Pace after the morning session.

Miyazato is coming off a third-place finish Sunday in the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, the nine-time LPGA Tour winner's first top-10 finish since 2013.

Top-ranked Lydia Ko and Michelle Wie shot 70. Ko won at Carlsbad.

Second-ranked Inbee Park, No. 3 Lexi Thompson and No. 4 Stacy Lewis - all past winners in the first major championship of the year - played in the afternoon.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.