With the LPGA Tour's most famous player making sports history in Texas, one of its less well-known players made some personal history at the Corning Country Club here on Thursday.
England's Karen Stupples fired a career-best eight-under-par 64 and opened a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Corning Classic.
Disqualified from this tournament last year after she missed her opening-round tee time by five-and-a-half minutes, Stupples collected eight birdies during a bogey-free trip around the 6,062-yard course.
"I think everybody who knows me was making sure I was on the right path this week," said Stupples. "I had my husband phoning me and everybody was checking up."
Stupples was one of many players whose eyes were glued on the television, watching the LPGA stalwart Annika Sorenstam shoot a one-over 71 at the Colonial in Fort Worth, the first woman to play an event on the PGA Tour in 58 years.
"I'm rooting for Annika 110 per cent," Stupples said. "I don't think anybody here in Corning is not rooting for her. It's always at the back of your mind. I was so happy to see that she's playing fantastic. It's going to be such a big part of what we do this week, how she's doing over there."
Stupples, however, will not let Sorenstam's absence tarnish what would be her first win in five years on tour.
"You know what, a first win is going to be fantastic wherever it comes," Stupples said. "It would make it all the better if Annika was playing, too. It's a win-win situation. It's going to be fantastic, regardless of where it comes."
Stupples, who tied for seventh two weeks ago at Asahi Ryokuken International, her best finish this year, added: "I felt pretty good coming in here. I really feel I should be contending week in and week out. Mentally, I've got to make sure that I get myself there now."
The two-times champion Rosie Jones, Michele Redman and Sweden's Helen Alfredsson hope to keep Stupples from celebrating tomorrow. They had six-under 66s and are two strokes off the pace.
"There was a big holler in the locker room when [Sorenstam] got her first birdie," Jones said. "Wherever there's a TV, people are watching."
Commenting on her own round, Jones added: "I knew all the holes after 13 were birdie-able." She began the string after a three-putt bogey at the 412-yard, par-four 13th hole.
Laura Diaz struggled to an even-par 72 as she tried to defend her title.
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