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Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 04:17 GMT 05:17 UK
Good start for Gustafson
Sophie Gustafson
Gustafson was part of Europe's victorious Solheim Cup team
Sweden's Sophie Gustafson holds a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the LPGA Longs Drugs Challenge in California.

The Solheim Cup player, who is seeking her first LPGA Tour victory in two years, shot a six-under 66 which included eight birdies and a double bogey.

Karrie Webb, Michelle Ellis and Grace Park are tied for second place after shooting 67s.

Gustafson, who has four top 10 finishes this season and is tied for 32nd on the money list, moved into a tie for the lead after she two-putted from 30 feet for a birdie on the eighth.

She then picked up another birdie with a seven-foot putt on her eighth, the closing hole of the day.

"I've been playing good for the past two months," Gustafson said. "I've had three wins in the last two months, so it's been working well."

Despite her LPGA victory drought, Gustafson has been victorious in recent tournaments in Ireland, Sweden and Spain and has 15 international titles.

"I think my confidence has gone up, and I've improved my chipping, so that helps me," she said.

Webb, looking for her second LPGA title of the season had a superb back nine with an eagle at the 11th as well as four birdies.

Ellis, chasing her first LGPA title, had six birdies and a bogey while touring the course wearing her signature Notre Dame University cap.

Park, also vying for her second title of the season, also eagled the 11th. Two-time tournament winner Juli Inkster, Wendy Ward, Lorie Kane, Gloria Park, Patricia Baxter-Johnson and Smitri Mehra, India's only professional golfer, all had 68s.

Defending champion Cristie Kerr shot an level-par 72.



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