Creamer rises to top of field

MOBILE, Ala. --- Paula Creamer birdied the final seven holes for a share of the first-round lead with Meg Mallon on Thursday in the Tournament of Champions, ending Suzann Pettersen's run at the top of the leaderboard at six rounds.


Creamer and Mallon shot 5-under-par 67s, leaving them two strokes ahead of Pettersen, Natalie Gulbis, Pat Hurst, Mi Hyun Kim and Seon Hwa Lee.

Annika Sorenstam opened with 71, and defending champion Lorena Ochoa shot 74 on The Crossing Course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Magnolia Grove complex. The event is limited to tournament winners from 2004-07 and active Hall of Famers.

After making the turn at 2 over, Creamer played the back nine in 7-under-par 29. She began the birdie run with a 15-foot putt on the par-5 13th, then hit 7-iron shots to 5 and 8 feet on 14 and 15. Creamer two-putted from 35 feet on the par-5 16th, hit a 6-iron to 8 feet on the par-3 17th and made another 8-footer on the par-4 18th.

Creamer tied In-Kyung Kim for the longest birdie streak on the tour this year. Kim birdied the first seven holes in the third round of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic. The tour record is nine by Beth Daniel in the 1999 Philips Invitational.

HSBC CHAMPIONS: In Shanghai, China, Kevin Stadler is feeling better these days. For proof, look at his 8-under-par 64 that gave him a share of the lead after the first round.

A few days ago and half a world away, Stadler salvaged his tour card for next season. He needed to finish in the top 125 on the money list. He did, scraping by at No. 124 with a strong finish Sunday in the Children's Miracle Network Classic in Orlando -- the last event of the U.S. tour season.

"Sunday was a long day, a stressful day," said Stadler, who shared the lead with Niclas Fasth of Sweden.

They matched the course record at the Sheshan Golf Club, an American-style layout on the edge of Shanghai.

"I pretty much just went straight from the golf course to the airport to come over here," Stadler said of the long plane trip to China.



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