South Korea’s In-Kyung Kim tied a course record with a 9-under-par 63 Thursday to take the lead after the first round of the Honda LPGA Thailand, the season-opening event on the 2011 LPGA Tour.
Kim, ranked No. 7, started with a birdie and went on to pick up nine more. She matched the course record set by 2007 winner Suzann Pettersen of Norway, Stacy Prammanasudh in 2008 and defending champion Ai Miyazato of Japan in 2010.
“I didn’t think about the record, I just wanted to play well,” Kim said. “I should do this more often.”
The start of the $1.45 million tournament was played in damp conditions after heavy downpours earlier in the week. Due to the wet surface at the 6,469-yard Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course, players were allowed to use preferred lies.
“I started with a birdie and then kept making birdies,” Kim said. “My coach and I work on my game and it really helped today. It was a good start, so I couldn’t be happier.”
Top-ranked Yani Tseng and Juli Inkster each shot 66 and were three shots behind Kim.
“It’s a pretty good round for this course. It’s playing longer this year,” Tseng said. “I hit lots of 7-iron, 6-iron, 5-iron, which is totally different from last year. I just didn’t hit my irons as good, but I’m staying patient and I hope the next three days get better.”
Inkster started with bogeys on the second and third holes before sinking seven birdies and an eagle to go with a third bogey late in the day.
“I hit a bad shot on three and on two, I hit a good shot, but I couldn’t get up and down,” the 50-year-old Inkster said. “I hung in there and started hitting some really good irons and got some birdies. I didn’t really get in too much trouble today. Hit my irons really good.”
Catriona Matthew (67) and Pettersen (68), followed by Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and Stacy Lewis, who all had 69s were also near the top.
Also Thursday, Giulia Sergas of Italy shot an 8-under-par 64 Thursday to take a three-stroke lead after the first round of the New Zealand Women’s Open.
The 31-year-old U.S.-based Sergas played before afternoon winds made things difficult for the later golfers in the Ladies European Tour event at the par-72 Pegasus Golf Club north of Christchurch.
South Korea’s Kim Bo-bea was in second place after a 67, with American Amelia Lewis, France’s Cassandra Kirkland, Christel Boeljon of the Netherlands and Anja Monke of Germany in third place after 69s.
Defending champion Laura Davies of England shot 72 to share 15th place.