In the opening round of the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, defending champion Katherine Kirk picked up where she left off last year: impressing the Green Bay golf fans with bundle of birdies en rout to a course-record-tying 10-under par and a one-shot lead.
Kirk kicked off her title defense with a sizzling first-nine 29, highlighted by a hat trick of birdies to start (Nos. 10-12) and four more gains to close (Nos. 15-18). The 36-year old Aussie cruised in to 3-under 33 to sign for a low-round 62.
“I mean, having shot 9-under last year, and I knew the conditions were going to be perfect in morning, the greens were perfect. I knew someone could probably go close though that,” said Kirk, who entered the Thornberry off five missed-cuts and a T61 in her last six starts.
“So I got off to a hot start. Yeah, just tried to keep the pedal down on the back nine.”
One back of Kirk was Sei Young Kim who finished with a bogey-free 63, highlighted by a string of seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch, including six-straight on Nos. 11-16.
“I’m always happy to be here,” said Kim, who finished solo-third last season at 20-under par.
“One of my favorite locations. So, yeah, when I got here great atmosphere and great food and great course.”
After matching bogey-free 64s, Canadian Brittany Marchand and American Megan Khang were T3, one clear of a 12-player logjam at T5, headlined by another Canadian in Brooke Henderson, who carded two late birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 to reach 7-under par 65.
TOP 10: ROUND ONE
1. Katherine Kirk -10
2. Sei Young Kim -9
3. Megan Khang -8
4. Brittany Marchand -8
5. Ayako Uehara -7
5. Carlota Ciganda -7
5. Pei-Yun Chien -7
5. Austin Ernst -7
5. Sandra Gal -7
5. Emma Talley -7
5. Brooke Henderson -7
5. Daniela Holmqvist -7
STATS: KATHERINE KIRK IN THE LEAD
Driving: 252.0 yards
Fairways: 14/14, 100%
Greens: 17/18, 94.4%
Par-3 Scoring: -2 (2 Birdies, 2 Pars)
Par-4 Scoring: -5 (5 Birdies, 5 Pars)
Par-5 Scoring: -3 (3 Birdies, 1 Par)
Aggregate Scoring: -10 (10 Birdies, 8 Pars)
EXIT QUESTION FOR KATHERINE KIRK
Q: You said this course suits your eye. Can you explain that a little bit? Why does this suit your eye and your game?
KATHERINE KIRK: “Partly because it’s generous off the tee. I’ve never been a very straight driver of the golf ball. I don’t know. Just reminds me of some courses back in Kansas.
“Obviously, yeah, got some good shots in mind from last year. Yeah, it’s a pretty golf course. There are lots of easy targets to pick; greens are perfect.
“So, yeah, it’s a fun golf course to play.”