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Kim fires 64 to take LPGA lead in Los Angeles

Grace Kim Grace Kim - The Canadian Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Grace Kim shot a 7-under 64 at Wilshire Country Club to take the first-round lead Thursday in the LPGA Tour's JM Eagle LA Championship.

Playing in the morning session, the 23-year-old Australian capped her bogey-free round with a chip-in birdie on the par-3 18th.

“Well, I chunked my tee shot on the last hole 20 meters short and then I chipped it in it,” Kim said. “I think that’s pretty cool, in front of everyone.”

Maja Stark of Sweden, Sei Young Kim of South Korea and Chanettee Wannasaen of Thailand were a stroke back at 65. Stark finished second last week outside Houston in The Chevron Championship, two strokes behind top-ranked Nelly Korda.

“I was so tired when I got here,” Stark said. “I barely been practicing. Just did a little bit of what I needed to do. I feel like it’s kind of similar anyway because there are just some pins that you can’t go for just like at Chevron.”

Korda withdrew Monday, a day after her fifth victory in a row.

Grace Kim won the LOTTE Championship last year in a playoff in Hawaii for her first LPGA Tour title. She missed the cut in The Chevron, shooting 76-72.

“If I was to compare my round today to last week, I really focused on just not having too much in my mind,” she said. “I think I over-thought a lot of things through my first and second round last week and struggled a little bit mentally.”

Sei Young Kim had four straight birdies on Nos. 12-15 in her afternoon round. She won the last of her 12 LPGA Tour titles in 2020.

Auston Kim, Haeran Ryu and Nataliya Guseva shot 66, and defending champion Hannah Green matched Amy Yang and Bianca Pagdanganan at 67.

Savannah Grewal of Mississauga, Ont., had a 71 to finish even par, while Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., shot 75.


AP golf: