Kim three clear in LPGA Thailand

In Kyung Kim has claimed the first-round lead at the Honda LPGA Thailand with a blistering, career-best, 9-under-par 63.

In Kyung Kim claimed the first-round lead at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Thursday with a stunning, career-best, 9-under-par 63 at the Siam Country Club’s Old Course.

The 22-year-old US-based Korean, currently ranked No 7 on the Women’s World Rankings list, posted nine birdies to equal the course record and take a three-shot lead over newly-promoted World No 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan and US Hall of Fame veteran Juli Inkster, who both shot 6-under 66s.

Kim, who lives in San Diego, started her day with a birdie at the par-5 first hole and never looked back, nearly holing a birdie chip on 18.

She joined Norway’s Suzann Pettersen (2007), Thai Stacy Prammanasudh (2009) and last year’s champion Ai Miyazato of Japan in the record books with her bogey-free performance.

Kim said: “I was really excited to come here in my first LPGA event of the season. I saw I was teeing off first today and thought that was kind of lucky I would get a little bit cooler weather than the other players.

“I started with a birdie and kept making birdies somehow. I didn’t think about what I was going to do, I just played every shot. My coach was caddying for me today and helped me a lot. We have been working on little changes, but the first event of the season…, you never know. You’re excited and you want to see what’s going on. I think it was a really good start. I couldn’t be happier.”

Juli Inkster, a 31-time Tour winner overcame a rocky start as she sought her first victory since the 2006 Safeway International and become the oldest-ever winner on the LPGA Tour, recovering from back-to-back bogies at two and three to shoot her 6-under-par 66.

Her surge up the leaderboard was highlighted by a magnificent shot at the 7th hole where she holed out for eagle from 98 yards with a sand wedge.

Tseng, in the meantime, is looking to make it four out of four.

She has teed it up at three events this season and won on each occasion, first on the Asian Ladies Golf Tour (ALGT) and then twice on the Ladies European Tour, and she will be hoping to continue her amazing streak this week after opening with a 66.

While she was pleased to be among the leaders of the chasing pack, she felt she could have done better.

“The course is playing longer this year. I hit lots of 7-irons, 6-irons and 5-irons which is totally different from last year, but I just didn’t hit my irons as good.

“I’m staying patient, though, and I hope the next three days get better.”