Feng, 24, had seven birdies and a bogey in her morning round in perfect conditions at Mission Hills. She has a one-shot lead over Michelle Wie and Se Ri Pak.
Former Columbia County resident Ashlan Ramsey, who now lives in Milledgeville, Ga., and plays on the Clemson women’s golf team, shot 77.
“This morning, it was playing easier because there was no wind,” Feng said. “This course, usually in the afternoon, the wind will pick up. So, afternoon is actually the big challenge.”
Feng won the 2012 LPGA Championship to become the tour’s first Chinese winner and had two victories late last year. She tied for 16th last week in the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, her best finish of the year.
“The beginning of this year I was kind of a little lost because I lost a little weight and my swing kind of changed a little,” Feng said. “I wasn’t swinging very comfortably when we were playing over in Asia. But I do think that my condition is better and better.”
Wie lipped out a 3-foot par putt on the par-3 17th, then settled for par on the 18th hole for her 67.
“I’ll take it,” Wie said. “I’ll take a 67 here.”
Pak, 36, birdied her final hole for her 67. She won the last of her five major titles in 2006.
“Just a solid round,” Pak said. “The greens got a little firmer, but I got pretty good distance control.”
Angel Yin, a 15-year-old high school freshman from the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia, was another stroke back at 68 with Amy Yang.
Wie birdied the par-5 ninth and par-4 10th, made a 25-foot eagle putt on the par-5 11th and moved into a tie for the lead with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 12th. She got up-and-down for par from near a steep face in a bunker on the par-4 15th, hitting to 1½ feet with her left foot almost 2 feet above her right.
EUROPEAN TOUR: In Cadiz, Spain, Jack Doherty shot 3-under-par 69 for the clubhouse lead in the first round of the rain-interrupted NH Collection Open.
Play was delayed by nearly three hours due to heavy rain before Doherty came through with six birdies to take a one-shot lead at La Reserva golf club.
Four players were at 2-under, and a large group of players sat at 1-under as half of the 144-player field was unable to finish the opening round of the inaugural European Tour event.
Among those failing to finish were former Augusta State players Scott Jamieson and Oliver Wilson. Jamieson is at even par through 10 holes and Wilson is 4-over through 13.