ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Canadian-based South Korean SooBin Kim shot a course-record 9-under 63 on Thursday to leave defending champion and top-ranked Lydia Ko seven strokes behind at the Women’s Australian Open.
Kim’s bogey-free opening round came after starting on the 10th hole of The Grange’s West course. She had a three-stroke lead over American Casey Grice and Germany’s Caroline Masson.
Five-time champion Karrie Webb was in a group with 67s, four behind.
Ko, who won last year’s title at Royal Melbourne, bogeyed two holes on her first nine after starting on the 10th, but the New Zealander had three birdies on the back nine for her 70.
”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.”
Kim, who moved to Canada from South Korea with her family when she was 10 and is based in Langley, British Columbia, birdied seven of her first 12 holes.
Ranked 258th in the world, Kim was playing her first LPGA tournament round this year because her low ranking failed to gain her direct entry into the initial two LPGA events in the Bahamas and Florida.
Kim, who eclipsed the previous women’s course record of 66 shot by Australian Nadina Taylor at an amateur event in 2000, had 26 putts in what she described as ”one of those days.”
”I was just picking my line and rolling them in, let the ball do the rest,” the 22-year-old Kim said. ”I was pretty ready for it, so (I am) not surprised.”
Kim has not made up her mind whether to become a Canadian citizen. She has had the same coach, Brian Jung, for nine years and was part of British Columbia Golf’s junior program.
”I was definitely thinking about it but I still haven’t got the citizenship yet, still deciding,” Kim said. ”Most of the Koreans they want their kids to learn English, so that was the only reason when I moved to Canada. And then golf followed after that …”
Grice is also playing in her first year on the LPGA Tour, and likes The Grange on her first visit to Australia.
”The par 5s are pretty reachable for me, being a longer hitter, and so I’m giving myself a lot of opportunities for birdies,” Grice said. ”The weather was great, not a lot of wind, and it was basically perfect conditions today.”
Webb said she would have been happy with 5-under before the round began – ”I would have stayed in my hotel.”
”We got pretty lucky, the wind kicked up later today than it has, so we really only had to play in that gusty wind probably for the last four or five holes,” Webb added.
Cheyenne Woods and Katherine Kirk had 71s while 2009 champion Laura Davies shot 78.
The tournament is also sanctioned by the Australian Ladies and Ladies European Tour.