Kim seizes LPGA Founders Cup lead with four-birdie run
South Korea's Kim Sei-young, seeking her first LPGA victory since 2020, fired a bogey-free six-under par 66 to grab a one-stroke lead after Thursday's opening round of the Founders Cup.
The 30-year-old from Seoul, who won the Founders Cup in 2016 when the event was staged in Arizona, grabbed a one-stroke lead over compatriot Ryu Hae-ran after 18 holes at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, New Jersey.
"This course is a favorite course," Kim said. "Keep the fairway it's really important this week. Greens are really fast, way faster than in practice round."
World number 33 Kim has won 12 career LPGA titles, including a major at the 2020 Women's PGA Championship, but last captured a crown at the 2020 Pelican Championship.
Kim birdied the par-4 third and par-3 sixth and reeled off four birdies in a row from the par-5 12th through the par-3 15th holes to seize the lead.
The event celebrates the pioneers who began the LPGA Tour and Kim appreciates the chance to pay tribute to their legacy.
"It means a lot because of the legends, legacy players," she said. "We had a chance to meet them at 18. Really glad to meet them. It's good emotionally to share with them, so it's really a special tournament to me."
Ryu, a 22-year-old LPGA rookie, is coming off a career-best showing with a share of sixth at Los Angeles.
"At the very first time I had a really low confidence," she said.
"After all the rounds I'm getting more confidence at the tour and I'm really doing well I think."
Ryu, ranked 45th, birdied four of the first seven holes but also made bogeys at the par-5 second and ninth and par-4 11th holes before unleashing her own run of four birdies in a row from 12 through 15.
"Before I was a little bit struggling, but then I got a birdie on the 12th and then I'm making my good mood," Ryu said of her birdie run.
"I was a little bit worried when I started because fairway is really narrow, but I changed my mind... after that my score is getting better."
Taiwan's 42nd-ranked Chien Peiyun had a chance to claim a share of the lead but the back-nine starter closed with back-to-back bogeys at the par-3 eighth and par-5 ninth to fall into a third-place pack on 68.
Also two strokes adrift were South Koreans Choi Hye-jin and Ko Jin-young, Australian defending champion Minjee Lee, Japan's Nasa Hataoka, Americans Stacy Lewis and Cheyenne Knight, Thailand's Atthaya Thitikul and Canada's Maddie Szeryk.