Uehara leads ANA; Thompson, Wie playing in afternoon

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Uehara leads ANA; Thompson, Wie playing in afternoon
Ayako Uehara, of Japan, hits from the fairway on the ninth hole during the first round of the LPGA Tour ANA Inspiration golf tournament at Mission Hills Country Club, Thursday, March 29, 2018 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Ayako Uehara birdied her final two holes for a 6-under 66 and a one-stroke lead halfway through the first round of the ANA Inspiration.

The Japanese player was 6 under on her final 10 holes Thursday at Mission Hills, finishing with birdies on the par-3 eighth and par-5 ninth. Stanford sophomore Albane Valenzuela, Jessica Korda and Ha Na Jang were tied for second.

Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie were on the course in the featured afternoon pairing in the first major championship of the season. Last year, Thompson was penalized four shots with six holes to play in regulation because of a rules violation the day before, wiping out a three-stroke lead. She rallied to force a playoff that So Yeon Ryu won on the first hole.