South Korea’s Kim Hyo-joo reeled off four straight birdies on the back nine on Thursday to seize a two-shot lead after the first round of the Ascendant LPGA in Dallas, Texas.
The world No 7, who has five top-five finishes this year but hasn’t been able to add to her tally of five LPGA Tour titles, finally got her putter working at The Colony, where she had eight birdies in her seven-under-par 64.
“Including last week, my putting hasn’t been good so I hadn’t been able to hit low scores,” said Kim, who finished tied for 48th at the NW Arkansas Championship last week – her third straight start without cracking the top 20.
“But my putting worked really well for the first time in a while, so I was able to hit low scores and it was a satisfying day.”
Kim, a former Major champion who was runner-up at the Scottish Open and tied for fourth at the Women’s Open this season, admitted her failure to find the winner’s circle has been frustrating.
“It’s good that I’m on top of the leaderboard often but it’s disappointing that I’m not at the top at the end of the week,” she said. “I really want to stay at the top of the leaderboard after this week’s done.”
She made a good start toward that aim with her birdies at the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th, converting putts ranging from three to nine feet.
Three players shared second on 66, Paraguay’s Sofia Garcia and Taiwan’s Hou Yu-Sang each had five birdies without a bogey in their five-under efforts while Spanish veteran Azahara Munoz had seven birdies and two bogeys.
Australian Sarah Kemp and American Marina Alex shared fifth on 67, and it was a further stroke back to Japan’s Minami Katsu, South Korean Jenny Shin and American Lindsey Weaver-Wright on 68.
Munoz missed just one fairway and needed only 22 putts. She chipped in twice for birdie – at the 6th and 7th – and said it was a pleasure to have all facets of her game working.
“I just haven’t been able to put both things together, like ball striking and putting together,” she said. “Today was really nice – didn’t get myself in trouble. “When I had my chances I made them,” she said.
South Africa’s Paul Reto began with a 72 that left her tied for 51st position.
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