Stupples leads Corning Classic

CORNING, N.Y., May 22 (UPI) -- With the LPGA Tour's most famous player making sports history in Texas, one of its more obscure players made some personal history at the Corning Country Club Thursday.

England's Karen Stupples fired a career-best 8-under-par 64 and opened a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Corning Classic.


Disqualified from this tournament last year after she missed her opening-round tee time by 5 1/2 minutes, Stupples collected eight birdies during a bogey-free trip around the 6,062-yard layout.

"That was the only time. Never again," Stupples said. "I think everybody who knows me was making sure I was on the right path this week. I had my husband phoning me and everybody was checking up."

Stupples was one of many players whose eyes were glued on the television, watching LPGA superstar Annika Sorenstam become the first woman to play an event on the PGA Tour in 58 years. Sorenstam shot a 1-over 71 at the Colonial in Fort Worth.

"I'm rooting for Annika 110 percent," Stupples said. "I don't think anybody here in Corning is not rooting for her. It's always at the back of your mind. I was so happy to see that she's playing fantastic. It's going to be such a big part of what we do this week, how she's doing over there."


Stupples, however, will not let Sorenstam's absence tarnish what would be her first win in five years on tour.

"You know what, a first win is going to be fantastic wherever it comes," said Stupples, who attended Florida State and resides in Orlando. "It would make it all the more better if Annika was playing, too. It's a win-win situation. It's going to be fantastic, regardless of wherever it comes."

Two-time champion Rosie Jones, Michele Redman and Sweden's Helen Alfredsson hope to keep Stupples from celebrating Sunday. They carded 6-under 66s and are two strokes off the pace.

Alfredsson played in a group with Sorenstam's younger sister, Charlotta.

"We just went along like we normally do," said Alfredsson, who has struggled since winning twice in 1998. "We wish (Annika) the best tomorrow and then I just asked how she felt the course was. And she said she felt it was long and she was nervous, but we all know that."

Meg Mallon, Dottie Pepper, Natalie Gulbis, Amy Fruhwirth, Canada's Lorie Kane and Korea's Mi Hyun Kim are three shots behind Stupples after signing for 67s.


Laura Diaz struggled to an even-par 72 as she tried to defend her title. Coming off her best showing of the season at the Asahi Ryokuken Championship, she offset four birdies with four bogeys and is tied for 70th.

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