Changkija birdies six of her last eight holes to lead rainy Manulife Classic

Sandra Changkija at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic
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Clubhouse leader Sandra Changkija is making just the eighth start of her rookie season this week at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.
By
Associated Press

Series: LPGA Tour

WATERLOO, Ontario -- Sandra Changkija birdied six of her final eight holes for a career-best 8-under 63 and a three-stroke lead Thursday during the suspended first round of the inaugural Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.

Play was suspended at 4:20 p.m. because of the threat of lightning in the area, and called off for the rest of the day at 6:30 p.m. Seventy-two players were unable to finish the round.

MANULIFE CLASSIC

The inaugural Manulife Financial LPGA Classic is the first of two LPGA Tour events in Canada this year, and is one of five new events on the 2012 schedule.

Changkija, making her eighth start in her rookie season, parred her first six holes after beginning play on No. 10, then birdied Nos. 16 and 18. With the wind picking up on the Grey Silo course, she birdied No. 2 and Nos. 4-8 for a front-nine 30.

"My ball striking's been good, you know, for most every tournament I've played in," said Changkija, who has made only two cuts and earned $6,708 this season "I just missed a few fairways here and there. I've been keeping up with my ball striking and just needed to make some good strokes."

China's Shanshan Feng, coming off a major victory two weeks ago in the Wegmans LPGA Championship, shot a 66.

"You know, I thought a lot before I started because I know that after you win a tournament, maybe sometimes you'll be too like expecting yourself to do too well and then that would give yourself actually pressure," Feng said. "But that was what I was trying to tell myself. I said, `Just keep patient and just focus on shot by shot and try your best.'"

Sweden's Anna Nordqvist also was 5 under with five holes left.

Suzann Pettersen, Angela Stanford, Karin Sjodin and Lacey Agnew shot 67.

Pettersen tied for second in the Wegmans LPGA Championship.

"I actually got off to a pretty good start," Pettersen said. "I just feel like I've played a lot of golf lately, I'm feeling I'm playing very good, I have a good feel for the greens. It got really windy after a couple holes. It's tough, but it's not that tough, but it's tough enough when the wind gets up, that's the only thing that's going to protect this course. But I'm right there. It's good."

Michelle Wie, trying to break out of a season-long slump, opened with a 70, breaking par for only the second time in 19 rounds this year.

Second-ranked Stacy Lewis, a two-time winner this season, was 1 over with six holes left.