Southampton, NY – Ha-Neul Kim carded a 6-under 66 on Thursday to grab a 1-stroke lead at the end of the first round of the U.S. Women's Open.
Kim, who is competing in just her third LPGA event this season and is appearing in her first U.S. Women's Open, is a seven-time winner in the KLPGA Tour.
"This is [my] first time in U.S. Open, and [I] didn't think that [I'm] going to do it like this," Kim said through a translator.
Inbee Park sits alone in second place following her 5-under 67 at Sebonack Golf Club. Park is seeking to become just the second player ever to win the first three majors in a season after having already captured titles at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Wegmans LPGA Championship.
I.K. Kim and Caroline Hedwall each bogeyed their final hole to join Anna Nordqvist and Lizette Salas in third place at 4-under.
Paz Echeverria and Maude-Aimee LeBlanc shared seventh at 3-under 69.
Ha-Neul Kim went out on the course with one of the last groups and parred her first three holes before rolling in a birdie at the 13th.
She hit the turn at 2-under following another birdie at the 18th, and made it two in a row at the first.
She then added gains at the fourth and sixth to meet Park atop the leaderboard at 5-under. Kim grabbed the outright lead with her sixth birdie of the day at the eighth and closed out her bogey-free round with a par.
Park started on the back nine and opened with a birdie before picking up another shot at the 14th.
After parring the next four holes to make the turn at 2-under, the world No. 1 started her inward nine with three birdies in a four-hole stretch from the first to move to 5-under.
She stumbled to a bogey at the sixth to drop back to minus-4, but bounced right back with a birdie at the eighth and closed with a par to head into the clubhouse with the lead.
"This morning, I think we almost had a perfect condition for scoring," said Park. "I mean, it was playing a lot shorter than the practice rounds, so I was able to go in with a little more short irons, and I was able to attack the pins a little bit and gave myself a lot of opportunities and made a lot of putts today."
Hedwall also started on the back nine and followed a birdie at the 11th with three straight gains from the 13th to race out to 4-under.
A bogey at the 16th halted her momentum, but she recovered with a birdie at the 17th.
Hedwall then dropped a pair of shots at the first and third before back-to- back birdies at the fourth and fifth brought her back to 4-under.
She then birdied the eighth to grab a share of the lead, but closed with a bogey at the ninth to finish a shot off the pace.
"Well, 4-under is a great start for a U.S. Open, so I'm really happy with it. I think it's really going to be a battle for pars for the rest of the week. So I'm in a great position. It's fun," stated Hedwall.
NOTES: Babe Zaharias in 1950 is the only player in LPGA history to win the first three majors of a season ... Juli Inkster, who shot an even-par 72 on Thursday to sit in a share of 28th place, is appearing in her record-setting 34th U.S. Women's Open. Marlene Hagge previously held the record at 33 ... Jessica and Nelly Korda are both in the field this week and are the seventh set of sisters to compete in the U.S. Women's Open. Jessica carded a 2-under 70, while Nelly shot 73 during the first round ... Defending champion Na Yeon Choi owns a share of 17th place following her 1-under 71 on Thursday.