Sung Hyun Park leads HanaBank, with Piller and Hull tied for second
INCHEON, South Korea (AP) – South Korea's Sung Hyun Park shot a course-record 10-under 62 on Thursday to take a four-stroke lead in the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship.
The 22-year-old Park birdied three of the last four holes after making six birdies in a seven-hole stretch in the middle of the round on Sky 72's Ocean Course.
Making her first LPGA Tour start, Park played alongside Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson and often drove past the long-hitting U.S. stars.
"I thought it was not an easy course, but my tee shots, my iron shots, my putting, everything just went really well," Park said through a translator.
"I have to say that with Lexi and Michelle, there were some holes where they shot farther than I did, so we were kind of going back and forth there. ... Michelle and Lexi are taller and bigger than I am and they are much more powerful than I am, but I notice that maybe my swing speed is a bit faster than them."
"I think today, I was especially lucky, but looking ahead to the next three days, I know that double or triple bogeys are a possibility," Park said "So, it's really anybody's game at this point. I'm going to try to not focus on winning too much and really try to do my best."
Ranked 54th in the world, Park won the Korea LPGA's Se Ri Pak Invitational two weeks ago for her third victory of the season. She also won the Korea Women's Open in June.
"It was awesome to watch, that's for sure," Thompson said. "She shot 10 under, and I swear it seemed like she birdied every hole. It was amazing to watch. I've never seen her play before and she's a great player. Amazing putter and great ball-striker and she hits it long."
Thompson had a 68, and Wie shot 71.
U.S. Solheim Cup hero Gerina Piller and England's Charley Hull were tied for second at 66.
Piller had six birdies in a bogey-free round that started on No. 10.
"I just made some putts," Piller said. "The greens are rolling pretty quick and they are pretty pure. I missed the green on the first hole and I had about a 10-footer (for par), so I think that just kind of kick-started the whole day."
Hull birdied five of the first seven holes in a bogey-free round.
"Just patience at the moment," Hull said.
China's Shanshan Feng was five strokes back at 66 along with South Koreans Chella Choi, Hyo Joo Kim, Eun-Hee Ji and Han Sol Ji. Kim and Choi won their first LPGA Tour titles this season. Kim took the Founders Cup in Phoenix, and Choi the Marathon Classic in Ohio.
"This tournament is my favorite tournament the whole year, because my hometown and my whole family came out here," Choi said. "I'm so excited and I'm really proud of my country."
Top-ranked Inbee Park had a 69. The South Korean star won two of the five majors this year and is tied with second-ranked Lydia Ko for the tour victory lead with four.
Ko also shot 69. She tied for second last week in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia after winning her previous two starts in Canada and France, where the 18-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander became the youngest major champion.
American Jessica Korda, the Malaysia winner, opened with a 71. U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster, the oldest player in the field at 55, also had a 71.
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