RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Lydia Ko was in trouble Thursday in the ANA Inspiration. Trying to tie Annika Sorenstam's LPGA Tour record for consecutive rounds under par, the 17-year-old New Zealander was even par with three holes left and stuck behind five large trees to the left of the seventh fairway.
"It was a pretty nasty place to be," Ko said.
To escape, she needed to a hit a sweeping, low hook.
She did, with the ball scampering onto the green and stopping pin-high 25 feet to the right.
She two-putted for par, then hit a 6-iron to 18 inches on the 158-yard eighth to set up the birdie she needed to get under par. She closed with a par on the par-5 ninth for a 1-under 71 to match Sorenstam's record of 29 straight rounds under par.
Ko was tied for 10th, four strokes behind first-round leader Morgan Pressel in the first major championship of the season. Pressel won the 2007 tournament to become the youngest major champion at 18 years, 10 months, 9 days.
"I kept the ball in play," Pressel said. "I was never really in terrible position."
Ai Miyazato was second at 68, and Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, So Yeon Ryu, Alison Walshe and Gwladys Nocera shot 69. The 54-year-old Inkster won in 1984 and 1989.
The top six played in the afternoon, long after strong wind tested the morning starters on their opening nines at tree-lined Mission Hills.
Lexi Thompson had a 72 playing alongside Ko in the morning. The defending champion was impressed with her young friend's recovery shot on No. 7.
HOUSTON - Scott Piercy tied a tournament record with a nearly flawless 9-under-par 63 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Houston Open.
Alex Cejka finished with a 64, one stroke behind Piercy. J.B. Holmes was third at 65; Phil Mickelson, Luke Guthrie, Charles Howell III and Houston's Shawn Stefani each shot a 66 and trail Piercy by three strokes.