South Korea's Inbee Park, bidding to take top honors for the LPGA season, got off to a strong start Thursday in the tour's next-to-last event.
Park fired a 4-under-par 68 to grab a one-shot lead at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico City.
Norway's Susan Pettersen, Angela Stanford and Australia's Minjee Lee are tied for second after carding 69s at Club de Golf Mexico.
In the final two tournaments, Park hopes to regain the No. 1 ranking from Lydia Ko of New Zealand. Park, 27, also is chasing the 18-year-old for the Rolex Player of the Year award, the Vare Trophy (for low scoring average) and the LPGA Tour season money title.
Ko is not playing this week. She will return to action next week in the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla.
Last week, Park was forced to pull out of the Blue Bay LPGA in China due to pain in the middle finger of her left hand caused by a cyst.
"Yeah, I was a little bit worried about not practicing for a few days, but I had a good day today, especially the front nine," Park said. "It was a good putting day. Obviously, on the back nine, I could've shot a little bit better, but I have three more days to go, and I just got to work on my ball-striking. I had a couple of bad shots at the back nine that I'd really like to fix."
Park must finish eighth or better this week to remain in the Rolex Player of the Year chase. The fact that she finished in the top four in Mexico City each of the past three years gives her encouragement.
"I play really well in this tournament, I just haven't won," Park said. "I definitely feel like I'm ready to win. I had three good years in this tournament, I just didn't win. I felt really good about the putter today. I putted really good today so that was a good sign. I just need three more consistent days."
Seven players are tied for fifth after opening with 71s: Sweden's Pernilla Lindberg, Colombia's Mariajo Uribe, Jaye Marie Green, Sydnee Michaels, Spain's Azahara Munoz, South Korea's So Yeon Ryu and Mexican amateur Gaby Lopez.