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Major champion Wie stalks Sharp for lead at NW Arkansas Championship

ROGERS, Arkansas -- Michelle Wie showed no sign of a let-down on Friday from her maiden major triumph, firing a bogey-free 66 to trail first-round leader Alena Sharp by one shot at the LPGA NW Arkansas Championship.

Canada's Sharp had seven birdies and one bogey on the par-71 Pinnacle Country Club course, setting an early target that none of the later starters could match.

Wie came on strong with four of her five birdies on the back nine, and the U.S. star was joined in second place on 5-under 66 by Mexico's Alejandra Llaneza, who also played without a bogey.

On a tightly packed leaderboard, South Korea's Ryu So-yeon led a group of 10 players sharing fourth place on 4-under 67.

Ryu was joined by compatriot Oh Ji-young, Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn and Pornanong Phatlum, China's Feng Shanshan, Sweden's Caroline Hedwall, the Philippines' Jennifer Rosales, Chile's Paz Echeverria and Americans Emma Jandel and Gerina Piller.

Eleven players were a further stroke back on 68, the big group including South Korea's Choi Na-yeon, Norway's Suzann Pettersen and rising U.S. star Jessica Korda.

Wie, 24, claimed the first major title of her career with a victory in the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst on Sunday.

It was a long-awaited milestone for the one-time prodigy, who gained notoriety as a teen professional who wanted to test herself against top male golfers but has struggled to establish herself as a force on the LPGA tour.

Wie's major breakthrough is part of a strong 2014 campaign in which she also won the LPGA Lotte Championship in her native Hawaii. She has nine top-10 finishes in 13 starts this year.

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 Australian Oliver Goss shares PGA lead in his second professional start 
Michelle Wie plays a shot on the 3rd hole during the first round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G at the Pinnacle Country Club on June 27.

(AFP)

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