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Pak shares Samsung lead

VALLEJO, Calif., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Se Ri Pak continued an unlikely quest for Player of the Year honors Thursday, carding a 2-under-par 70 to upstage her playing partner and grab a share of the lead after the first round at the exclusive Samsung Championship.

Reigning Rookie of the Year Dorothy Delasin also shot a 70 at the cold, windy Hiddenbrooke Golf Club and was tied with Pak atop the 20-player field that features the best women golfers in the world.

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Pak is seeking her second straight title, fourth in seven starts and sixth of the season, which would tie her for the LPGA Tour lead with playing partner Annika Sorenstam of Sweden.

"My game looks better every week," said Pak, a 24-year-old native of Korea in her fourth season on tour. "Especially today, with the way I'm playing, I'm happy.

"I'm ready for the next three days and rest of the season. Hopefully, I'll have a great season after November."

There are five tournaments remaining on the LPGA Tour schedule.

Pak's recent hot streak has her in the hunt for the Player of the Year award, which is a surprise, considering Sorenstam had five titles by the first week of May.

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"It's pretty close, the way we are right now," said Pak, who is second to Sorenstam on the money list. "But I don't want to push myself too much. If I get a chance, I'll take it. If not, I have many years to go still."

Sorenstam was tied for seventh after firing a 73. Already having qualified for the Hall of Fame at the age of 30, she is seeking her 30th LPGA Tour title.

Two-time defending Player of the Year Karrie Webb shot a 72. Both of her wins this season have come in majors.

The field is made up of all but two of the top-20 money winners on the tour this season as well as Korean Tour money winner Ah Ram Suh, who was last after shooting an 82.

Most of the players struggled with the northern California weather, which included temperatures in the 50s and gusty winds. It forced Delasin to grab mittens from a spectator on the 10th hole.

Californian Emilee Klein was out in the first pairing of the day and carded a 71. After completing her round, she called the conditions brutal.

"I'm thrilled to be in at 1-under," said Klein, who is third on the money list with $552,380. "I had some good up-and-downs, some great putts. I'm happy to be sitting here."

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Sophie Gustafson of Sweden and Kelly Robbins also were a stroke off the lead after shooting 71s. Gustafson was one of many not expecting the cold weather.

"I would have put some more clothes on if I would have known," said Gustafson, a Chicago resident who is 14th on the money list with $527,242.

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