South Korea’s SooBin Kim fired a course record nine-under par 63 to lead the LPGA-sanctioned Australian Women’s Open at The Grange in Adelaide yesterday.
The Canada-based Kim carved three shots off the previous best round by a woman on the West Course to lead the tournament by three shots.
While Kim was blazing around the course with nine birdies, world No.1 Lydia Ko carded a two-under 70 to begin her title defence. The New Zealander was just 17 when she became the youngest player to win the title in Melbourne last February, her first tournament win after topping the rankings. “I’ll take it,” Ko said. “I hit two really loose shots where it was hard to put myself in position the next time, but overall I played pretty solid.
“Not many putts dropped but they were hitting the edges. I think I was putting a good stroke on it and that’s all you can do.”
But the first round was all about Kim, 22, who is ranked 256th in the world. Kim said her putter was hot. She had just 26 putts for the day and hit 16 of the 18 greens in regulation.
“I was just picking my line and rolling them in, let the ball do the rest,” Kim said. “My coach (Brian Jung) was joking around and saying ‘let’s make 20 birdies this week’, and I said ‘yeah, I like that idea, let’s keep it rolling’.”
It was Kim’s first tournament round of the year after a long off-season, and her ranking did not get her into the field for the first two LPGA Tour events of the season. American Casey Grice and German Caroline Masson were in joint second place on six-under 66, with five players at five under, including Australia’s five-time champion Karrie Webb and 1996 champion Catriona Matthew of Scotland. Webb’s round included six birdies, one of which, at the par-four sixth, she counted as spectacular. Stuck behind trees, she swerved the ball up to four metres and then rolled the putt in for a three. “I probably made the best birdie of my career on six,” she said.
63-SooBin Kim (KOR)
66-Casey Grice (USA), Caroline Masson (GER)
67-Jenny Shin (KOR), PK Kongkraphan (THA), Choi Hye-Jin (KOR), Karrie Webb, Catriona Matthew (SCO)
68-Dani Holmqvist (SWE)
69-Lee So-Young(KOR), Su Oh, Kim Kaufman (USA), Minjee Lee, Jang Ha-Na (KOR), Haru Nomura (JPN), Lee Lopez (USA), Min Seo Kwak (KOR), Beth Allen (USA), Bertine Strauss (RSA), Seong Eun-Jeong (KOR)
70-Cydney Clanton (USA), Gaby Lopez (MEX), Jiyai Shin (KOR), Lydia Ko (NZL), Xi Yu Lin (CHN), Charley Hull (ENG), Mo Martin (USA), Ryann O’Toole (USA), Kana Nagai (JPN), Nanna Koerstz Madsen (DEN), Daniela Iacobelli (USA), Paula Reto (RSA), Annie Park (USA), Stacey Keating (AUS), Brooke M. Henderson (CAN), Danielle Kang (USA), Kylie Walker (SCO), Marianne Skarpnord (NOR)
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