Wie West, Feng back on major leaderboard

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Michelle Wie West was back on a major championship leaderboard Thursday at the ANA Inspiration and so was Shanshan Feng in her first tournament in 14 months.

Playing for the second straight week after a 21-month break, Wie West shot a 2-under 70, leaving her four strokes behind Thai leader Patty Tavatanakit (66) after the morning wave.

"Came into the day like, 'OK, no stress today, easy golf,"' Wie West said. I'm just happy to see my name on the first page of the leaderboard.

"That's really special to me. Been a long time since I've seen that."

Feng birdied three of her last five holes for a bogey-free 67 to join Ireland's Leona Maguire.

The Chinese star hadn't played a competitive round since November 2019 because of the coronavirus pandemic and a recent visa delay.

"I was kind of nervous last night," the 10-time LPGA Tour winner said. "But I said to myself, 'Hey, it's OK. Think about you're just an old rookie. Everything is new for you here and just have no expectation."

Wie West was in the second group off the 10th tee, opening to little fanfare with no spectators at Mission Hills for the 50th edition of the event.

Wie West first played the event in 2003, tying for ninth at age 13.

"I have to say today was a bit like when I was 13," Wie West said. "I kind of hit it all over the place and grinded a bit out there. But that feels good. I think that's kind of how I play."

Joining Wie West on 70 is Sarah Kemp, Australia's leading contender.

The Sydneysider enjoyed birdies on the 5th, 10th and 13th and could have finished tied eighth had it not been for a bogey on the 16th.

She is one shot ahead of compatriot Hannah Green, who is tied 21st after posting a one-under 71.

The 2019 PGA championship winner endured a treacherous run on the 15th to 17th holes where she made consecutive bogeys before bouncing back on the 18th with birdie, to add to her collection on the 9th, 11th and 12th.

A shot further back is world No.10 Minjee Lee and Gabriela Ruffels.

Lee posted a birdie (7th) and eagle on the par-five 18th to go with three bogeys, while Ruffels' round included two birdies and bogeys.

The 21-year-old Tavatanakit closed with a birdie on the par-5 18th for a bogey-free 66. She reached all the par 5s in two, birdieing three of them.

"It was a pretty calm and relaxing day today," Tavatanakit said. "I just stuck to my game plan and didn't get too greedy out there."

Two behind her are American Megan Khang, Swede Anna Nordqvist and Thai sisters Moriya Jutanugarn and Ariya Jutanugarn.