EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France (AP) — South Korean teen Hyo-Joo Kim made history with the lowest round in a major tournament, a faultless 10-under 61 to open the Evian Championship on Thursday.
According to the U.S. LPGA Tour, two women scored 62: Minea Blomqvist of Finland in the third round of the 2004 British Open, and Lorena Ochoa in the first round of the 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship. In a men’s major, 63 is the lowest, and it has been achieved multiple times.
“I like a hard course,” said the 19-year-old Kim, who was in the first year of a physical education course at Seoul University. “I felt very comfortable today.”
Kim takes a four-shot lead over veteran Karrie Webb into the second round.
Meanwhile, Michelle Wie’s bid for a second major ended early as she retired after just 13 holes, clearly still feeling the effects of a recent finger injury.
Tied for fourth here two years ago, the last year before Evian became a major, Kim had 10 birdies in a perfectly symmetrical round with five each on the front and back nine.
“I made a chance (for) a birdie on every (hole),” she said. “I missed some (but) it didn’t matter.”
The 39-year-old Webb had eight birdies but was undone by two bogeys.
Wie had two double bogeys and was 5 over when she pulled out. The U.S. Women’s Open champion was returning after five weeks out and missing four tournaments following a stress reaction in her right index finger. She wore blue strapping around her hand.
“I had hoped it was a week later but I just really wanted to come to France. I really love this tournament,” she said. “The doctors told me ‘It’s all up to you.’ But they did tell me if it did hurt to stop right away because it could get worse.
“I should have stopped earlier but I was having so much fun out there I wanted to keep playing. But it got to the point where it was too painful.”
Wie believed she should be able to play next month.
Korean Mi-Jung Hur was five behind Kim in third after a round of 66, while defending champion Suzann Pettersen of Norway and Brittany Lincicome of the U.S. were six behind.
The last of Webb’s seven majors was at the Kraft Nabisco in 2006, the year she won at Evian.
“Probably the best I putted for a long time. Switched to an old putter I used about 12 years ago,” the Australian said. “I changed swing coaches in the middle of the season, so I’ve actually probably put more work in through the summer than I normally would. The changes are starting to click.”
Inbee Park, bidding for back-to-back majors after defending her title at the LPGA Championship, was tied for 12th at 2 under.
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