Karrie Webb got off to a flying start at the last major of the year, the Evian Championship, but it was a little known South Korean who stole the limelight on day one in France.
Hyo-Joo Kim fired a stunning 10-under-par 61 – the lowest ever round in men’s or women’s major – to take a four stroke lead over Webb.
The 19-year-old from South Korea fired 10 birdies on a sunny day at the Evian Resort Golf Club, with five on both the front and back nine. “My goal is have a good experience in here. That's all,” said Kim, through a translator.
Kim, with four professional victories in total, had previously shot an 11-under-par 61 on the LPGA of Japan in 2013.
The World No.20, who leads the Korean LPGA money list after three wins this season, birdied the first, third, fourth, sixth and ninth holes. She then continued with birdies on holes 11, 13, 14, 16 and 18 to seal the lowest round in a Major and the tournament record for 18 holes on the redesigned Evian Resort Golf Course.
The previous lowest round in a women’s major championship was 62, by Minea Blomqvist at the 2004 Women’s British Open at Sunningdale, which was equalled by Lorena Ochoa at the 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship. The lowest round in a men’s major is 63 which has been recorded multiple times.
For Webb, she was very pleased with her performance, particularly with her “new” putter. “I rolled the ball really nicely. Probably the best I putted for a long time. I switched to an old putter I used about 12 years ago. Went for a more simple look, and the ball started going in today."
Webb's round included eight birdies and two bogeys, including one on the 18th to finish off her round, but overall she was happy. The changes the seven time major champion has made with her new coach are slowly start to work. “The changes are starting to click and I am starting to hit some really quality iron shots."
“It took a lot longer than I thought because I didn't think they were big things to change. They weren't big things to change on the range, but to get them to stick when I came out on the golf course they were a little bit more. If I could hit if they said it took a thousand golf balls before it could stick and you'd hit those in two days and it would stick. But it was a time factor as well before my body realized this, we're really doing this, we're making this change."
“My last tournament in Canada was the best I had hit any irons for a really, really long time, so that felt good. Had some confidence built up from that tournament.”
South Korean MJ Hur is a stroke further behind in solo third. While, the defending champion, Suzann Pettersen, with a four-under 67 to share fourth place with American Brittany Lincicome. A large group of six players including last week’s fellow Australian Sarah Jane Smith share sixth place on three-under-par.
It was a solid day for the Australian contingent, with Webb and Smith in the top 10. Victorian Lindsey Wright, Queenslander Katherine Kirk and New South Wales Sarah Kemp are all at even par and share 43rd position. Minjee Lee’s first round as a professional ended at one-over-par, 72, and she is tied for 63rd position.
The cut will be made to the top 70 players and ties after Friday's second round. Nikki Campbell carded an opening round of 75 to be outside the projected line in a tie for 85th place.
In other news, Michelle Wie, the US Women’s Open champion, retired after 13 holes during the first round due to pain from a stress reaction in her right index finger, having last played at the Meijer LPGA Classic in early August, where she had to retire for the same reason during the first round.