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Wie and Park go toe-to-toe in birdies to share LGPA lead

WATERLOO, Canada -- Michelle Wie matched her low round of the year with a six-under par 65 Thursday to grab a share of the lead at the US$1.5 million LPGA Manulife Financial Classic.

Wie, ranked 10th in the world, and defending champion Park Hee-young of South Korea finished 18 holes one stroke ahead of China's Feng Shanshan with American Cristie Kerr and China's Lin Xi Yu another stroke adrift.

Making her 12th start of the season, Wie sizzled early with birdies at the par-3 third, par-5 sixth and par-4 seventh.

She closed the front nine with a bogey but answered with a birdie at 11 and closed with birdies on three of the last four holes, the final one from 12 feet after reaching 15 of 18 greens in regulation in windy conditions.

“I was consistent,” Wie said. “And I felt like I judged the wind pretty well.”

Wie won her third LPGA career title in April in Hawaii, while Park captured her second LPGA victory last year here at Grey Silo, defeating Angela Stanford in a playoff.

Park began a bogey-free stroll on the 10th tee and birdied the 11th, then had back-to-back birdies at the par-5 18th and par-4 first, added another at the third hole and matched Wie's birdies as six and seven as well.

“I just kept thinking positive, keep it simple,” Park said. “And then I didn't really expect to play well because between this year and last year it was a pretty different condition. I just kept it simple and didn't care about other players playing well or not, just one by one shot play.”

Park finished 26-under par last year but was not targeting such a low total this time around.

“I was just happy today I played pretty good,” Park said. “Six-under par is (a) pretty good position. Still three more rounds left, so going to keep patient and do the same thing.”

Feng fired a birdie-free round as well, running off three birdies in a row at the par-5 fifth and sixth and seven, another birdie at 14 and she closed with a birdie to stand one off the lead.

Seven-time LPGA winner Choi Na-Yeon of South Korea is among 12 players on 68 while world number one Stacy Lewis and South Korean Park In-Bee, the dethroned former number one, were in a pack on 69.

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 Phil Mickelson starts strong with an eye toward success at the US Open 
Last year's tournament winner Park Hee-young of South Korea hits a tee a shot on the way to shooting a 6-under par, in Waterloo, Ontario on Thursday, June 5. (AP)

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