RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Charley Hull is comfortable at Mission Hills.
“I do like this golf course,” Hull said. “Who wouldn’t? The atmosphere around here is beautiful with the mountains and everything.”
The 19-year-old English player opened with a 2-under 70 on Thursday, leaving her three strokes behind first-round leader Morgan Pressel in the ANA Inspiration.
“I could have holed a few more putts coming in, but I didn’t, and then I bogeyed the last because I hit a bad shot into the bunker,” Hull said. “But I’m pretty happy with that round because I didn’t get here until Monday night at 10 o’clock.”
She tied for eighth Sunday in Morocco in the Lalla Meryem Cup, the Ladies European Tour event that she won last year for her first professional title.
The LET European Solheim Cup points leader is making her third start in event. She tied for 38th as an amateur in 2012 and tied for seventh last year.
Hull started working with instructor Matt Belsham in January.
“I’m pretty happy with the swing changes that we’ve made,” Hull said. “I feel like I’ve compressed my irons a lot more. I feel like I’ve got a good club and a half out of my irons longer and I’m hitting my driver with a lot better touch. I just feel more compact.”
AMATEUR STANDINGS: Haley Moore and Andrea Lee topped the six amateurs at 1-over 73.
The 16-year-old Moore, from Escondido, won the ANA Inspiration Champions Junior Challenge on Monday to earn the final spot in the 115-player field.
“I felt pretty good today,” Moore said. “I wasn’t quite as nervous as what I thought.”
She played alongside young English pro Charley Hull.
“She has so much talent very young,” Moore said. “I learned a lot from her.”
The 16-year-old Lee, from Hermosa Beach, is the reigning Rolex Junior Player of the Year
They were tied for 39th.
Nelly Korda, the sister of LPGA Tour player Jessica Korda, and fellow 16-year-old Mika Liu were tied for 101st at 77.
Duke’s Celine Boutier, the 21-year-old French player who tops the world amateur rankings, and 18-year-old Bethany Wu, shot 81. They were tied for 113th, a stroke ahead of Amy Alcott — the 59-year-old Hall of Famer who won the event in 1983, 1988 and 1991.
STACY’S SHORTCOMINGS: Third-ranked Stacy Lewis opened with an even-par 72, making four birdies and four bogeys in her afternoon round.
“It was up and down,” said Lewis, 2011 winner. “It definitely could have been worse. It definitely could have been better. More than anything, I thought it was the short game. You’re going to miss some iron shots around here. You’re going to miss a drive. Just the chipping and putting just weren’t very good. I’ve just got to shore that up.”
Lewis tied for 15th last week at Carlsbad, ending a string of three straight top-three finishes. She has 11 career victories.
FRIENDLY RIVALRY: Japan’s Ai Miyazato, second after a 68, has an endorsement deal with Japan Airlines — tournament sponsor All Nippon Airways’ main competitor.
“I just really appreciate the ANA because they kept the traditions of this tournament,” Miyazato said. “When you take your time on the golf course, and sometimes the other players are playing, I’m just standing still looking around and seeing the ANA signs and all the blue and everything, and it just makes me happy on the golf course.”
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