After rough return last week, Michelle Wie rides hot putter, near ace to 70 at ANA

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After rounds of 81-74 and a missed cut in her return to competition last week at the Kia Classic, Michelle Wie West was happy to make her second start at a familiar place.

Wie West has been playing Mission Hills since 2003, when she was a 13-year-old amateur who made the cut at what is now the ANA Inspiration.

This week marks her 16th start in the event and after one round, she’s put herself in early position for an improbable first win.

ANA Inspiration: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Wie West shot 2-under 70 on Thursday. She’s three off the lead, held by Shanshan Feng, who is making her first start on tour since 2019.

“I am just happy to see my name on the first page of the leaderboard,” she said after her round. “That’s really special to me. Been a long time since I’ve seen that.”

Wie West took off 21 months from LPGA competition as she battled injuries in 2019 and gave birth to her first child in 2020, skipping the pandemic-shortened season.

Highlights: Wie West, Round 1 at ANA Inspiration

Last week’s start in Southern California was a rude awakening but Wie West said she took some lessons with her to Rancho Mirage and applied them nicely in Round 1.

Beginning with a bogey on her first hole, the par-4 10th, she almost aced the par-3 14th for her first birdie of the day. After making the turn, she birdied three holes in a row, beginning at the first.

Wie West dropped one shot coming in, at the sixth, but was pleased with the result.

“It was fun today making putts out here. I have a lot of great memories, my first one being 18 years ago,” she said. “I was kind of looking back yesterday. This place a really special to me and I’m just glad to be here. What a great day.”