SHIMA, MIE PREF. – Americans Angela Stanford and Ryann O’Toole shared the lead at 7-under 65 on Friday in the LPGA Tour’s Toto Japan Classic.
The 37-year-old Stanford had eight birdies and a bogey at Kintetsu Kashikojima in the event also sanctioned by the Japan LPGA. She has five LPGA Tour victories and played a key role in the United States’ Solheim Cup comeback with a victory over Suzann Pettersen.
The 28-year-old O’Toole closed with a bogey on the par-4 ninth after playing the previous seven holes in 6 under with an eagle on the par-4 fourth and four birdies. She’s winless in her five-year career.
Ai Suzuki was a stroke back along with South Koreans Kimi Ha-neul, Ilhee Lee, Jenny Shin and Jeon Mi-jeong.
Third-ranked Stacy Lewis and fourth-ranked Lexi Thompson topped the group at 67.
Lewis won the 2012 tournament, overcoming a seven-stroke deficit with a final-round 64. The American tied for second last week in China, her sixth runner-up finish of the season and the 21st of her career. She won the last of her 11 LPGA Tour titles in June 2014.
Thompson won three weeks ago in South Korea for her second victory of the year.
Michelle Wie opened with a 70, making a double bogey in the par-4 15th. She’s one of 21 women to play in all five events this year on the Asian Swing.
Defending champion Lee Mi-hyang of South Korea also had a 70.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5