THE COLONY, Texas (AP) — Hyo Joo Kim took the first-round lead Thursday in The Ascendant LPGA, breaking away at Old American with a back-nine birdie run in a 7-under 64.
Kim, the 28-year-old South Korean player ranked No. 7 in the world, had a two-stroke lead over Azahara Munoz of Spain, Sofia Garcia of Paraguay and Yu-Sang Hou of Taiwan. Sarah Kemp of Australia and American Marina Alex followed at 67.
Kim had eight birdies and a bogey in her afternoon round. After a bogey on the par-3 11th, she birdied Nos. 13-16 and parred the final two.
“My putting hasn’t been good, so I hadn’t been able to hit low scores,” Kim said. “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.”
The five-time LPGA Tour winner has eight top-10 finishes this season without a victory.
“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,” Kim said. “I really want to stay at the top of the leaderboard after this week’s done.”
Garcia played at Texas Tech. She’s a rookie on the LPGA Tour.
“Obviously, I went to school in Texas,” Garcia said. “I know the weather. Today was definitely on the nicer side of Texas.”
Alex closed with a bogey on the par-4 ninth.
“I just played well,” Alex said. “I hit good drives, good approaches; I putted really nicely. I think the exception was the last hole. I missed about a 6-footer.”
Race to CME Globe leader Celine Boutier birdied the final two holes for a 69.
Lexi Thompson, set to play next week in the PGA Tour event in Las Vegas, shot a 71. After the Solheim Cup in Spain, Thompson tied for eighth last week in Arkansas for her first top 10 of the year. She moved up 24 spots to No. 114 in the Race to CME Globe.
Defending champion Charley Hull opened with a 72.
Arpichaya Yubol of Thailand had a 74. She won the Asian Games gold medal in China.
Maddie and Ellie Szeryk, sisters who live in Dallas, struggled. Maddie shot 74 and amateur Ellie had a 76 in her LPGA Tour debut.
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf