ROGERS, Ark. — Michelle Wie shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday in her first round since winning the U.S. Women’s Open last weekend at Pinehurst, leaving her a stroke behind leader Alena Sharp in the NW Arkansas Championship.
Wie played the back nine in 4-under 31 at Pinnacle Country Club on Friday.
Sharp, the Canadian ranked 234th in the world, had only 27 putts in her opening 65.
Mexico’s Alejandra Llaneza matched Wie with a bogey-free 66.
Top-ranked Stacy Lewis, who played at the nearby University of Arkansas, was 2 over after four holes before recovering to finish with a 70.
Ten players, including major champions So Yeon Ryu and Shanshan Feng, shot 67.
After Sharp finished at 6 under in the morning, Wie overcame windy conditions to post the best round of the afternoon.
She closed with a birdie on the par-5 18th. She needed only 28 putts in her first round since earning her first major championship.
Wie spent much of her week leading into the tournament busy with national television appearances following her first major win, and she didn’t hit the course until Thursday.
The whirlwind schedule and late arrival didn’t slow her Friday, nor did they slow the momentum of the most recognizable player in women’s golf — one who has won twice, has yet to miss a cut this year and leads the money list with nearly $1.6 million.
Sharp entered this week having missed the cut in six of her 11 LPGA Tour events this year, though she did win the Symetra Tour’s season-opening event in Arizona in February.
She finished 19th in a Symetra Tour event last week but started quickly on Friday morning — birdieing her second hole, the 11th. Sharp then surged into the lead with four straight birdies, starting on the par-5 18th and ending on the par-3 third.
Sharp followed her only bogey of the round on No. 5 with birdies on Nos. 7 and 8, and her 27 putts came after a putting adjustment two weeks ago following her 45th-place finish at the Manulife Financial Classic in Ontario. She entered this week 137th on the LPGA Tour with an average of 31.34 putts per round.
Lewis earned an unofficial win in the rain-shortened event as an amateur in 2007, but the Texas native, who finished second to Wie in the Women’s Open, struggled early on Friday — much to the dismay of her large pro-Razorbacks gallery.
She was 2 over after four holes, thanks to a missed 4-foot par putt on No. 2 and a bogey from the greenside bunker on No. 4.
Lewis recovered with three birdies to finish 1 under, but she needed 31 putts on her way to settling for a tie for 43rd.
European Solheim Cup star Caroline Hedwall also was in the group at 67 along with Jennifer Rosales, Moriya Jutanugarn, Emma Jandel, Gerina Piller, Ji Young Oh, Pornanong Phatlum and Paz Echeverria.