Shin shoots bo­gey-free 66, leads Women’s PGA

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY MELISSA MUR­PHY

South Korean Jenny Shin kept mov­ing up the leader­board, chas­ing Hall-of-Famer Kar­rie Webb.

Shin even­tu­ally caught her, shoot­ing a bo­gey-free, 7-un­der 66 Thurs­day for a one-stroke lead af­ter the open­ing round at the KPMG Women’s PGA Cham­pi­onship, the sec­ond ma­jor of the sea­son.

“I was chas­ing the leader­board all day, and I was sur­prised that Webby was at 6 un­der at one point,” said the 22-year-old Shin. “I got there and was like ` Maybe I can get one more on the 18th hole,’ and I did.”

Canadian teenager Brooke Hen­der­son had a three-putt bo­gey on her fi­nal hole at the ninth to drop a shot back af­ter Shin birdied No. 18 at the Westch­ester Coun­try Club.

“I hit it well all day, I’m dis­ap­pointed with the fin­ish on the last hole,” said the 17-year-old Hen­der­son, who was play­ing on a spon­sor ex­emp­tion.

Webb birdied three of the first four holes and fin­ished at 68. The 40- year- old Webb started her round in hazy con­di­tions at No. 10 and shot a 4-un­der 33 on the open­ing nine. She had a bo­geyfree round un­til she dropped a shot on the sev­enth when she missed the fair­way left and hit the front bunker.

“I hit a wedge to a foot and a half on 10 and that set­tled me in,” Webb said. “Hit the green in two on 12 and had about a 15-footer for ea­gle. I re­ally put some very solid swings on it early on.”

Shin had five birdies and an ea­gle on the par-5 15th. She spoke to her sports psy­chol­o­gist on Wed­nes­day night to help calm her nerves.

“I was freak­ing out for this round, so I tried to play as com­fort­able as I can, just like any other tour­na­ment,” Shin said. “I tried not to think of it as a ma­jor and it turned out great. I had a cou­ple of bo­gey-free rounds last week, so I think I’m on a good run.”

Amer­i­cans Brit­tany Lin­ci­come, Lexi Thomp­son, Cristie Kerr and Stacy Lewis were in a large group that fin­ished four strokes back at 70 in steamy tem­per­a­tures that reached the mid-80s. Lin­ci­come, the win­ner of the first ma­jor at the ANA In­spi­ra­tion in April, ea­gled the par-5 15th and fol­lowed with a birdie on 16.

Long­time Lead­ers Be­hind

Two-time de­fend­ing cham­pion In­bee Park shot a 71. Top-ranked teenager Ly­dia Ko was an­other stroke back, and Suzann Pet­tersen, com­ing off a win in Canada, fin­ished at 74. Michelle Wie, both­ered by a hip in­jury, shot 75.

Shin, who is seek­ing her first ma­jor, had three birdies on the front nine to gain on Webb, a seven-time ma­jor win­ner.

Hen­der­son, who turned pro in De­cem­ber, is be­low the LPGA Tour’s age re­quire­ment of 18. But she made the most of her spon­sor ex­emp­tion.

Hen­der­son birdied No. 10, her open­ing hole, and added birdies at Nos. 3, 5, 6 and 15. For her ea­gle on the par-5, 274 yard 12th hole, she hit a 7-wood 204 yards and the ball landed three feet from the cup.

Then came

the

three-putt on her fi­nal hole, where she “tried to hit it a lit­tle too hard and had an 8-footer to save par.”

The 29-year-old Lin­ci­come, who is seek­ing her third ma­jor, is one of the long­est hit­ters on the tour. She used a 4-iron from 203 yards out and got within 30 feet for her ea­gle on the par-5, 497-yard 15th.

“The putt, if I hadn’t hit the hole, it prob­a­bly would have gone off the green,” she said. “(My cad­die) asked if I had dented the cup.”

Park fin­ished with a birdie on 18, one of five on the day along with a bo­gey. The South Korean has won five ma­jors, in­clud­ing three straight in 2013.

Kerr had a bo­gey on the par-5, 551-yard fifth hole and four birdies on the West Course that she of­ten plays when in New York. She’s familiar with the slop­ing greens at the long­time home of the PGA Tour event now called The Bar­clays.

“The front nine, I had a bunch of chances and a cou­ple putts lipped out,” Kerr said. “I just tried to stay pa­tient and got off to a great start on the back nine.”

BIRDIES: An­nika Soren­stam, a win­ner of 10 ma­jors and three Women PGA Cham­pi­onships, said she walked the course. “It’s a tough course, the greens and some blind holes where you re­ally have to com­mit your­self. The scores are not that low, not many birdies. It will be a typ­i­cal grinder week.” ... Lin­ci­come ran into Triple Crown­win­ning jockey Vic­tor Espinoza at the Mets game on Tues­day night and got a pic­ture with him. ... Play­ing with Kerr and Jes­sica Korda, Lin­ci­come bet US$5 for ev­ery birdie af­ter a slow start. “Korda birdied the last, so we were tied, un­for­tu­nately,” Lin­ci­come said. “We just kind of needed some­thing to mo­ti­vate us to get back in it. We didn’t let Kerr in be­cause she was al­ready mak­ing too many.”

AP

Jenny Shin, of South Korea, tees off the ninth hole dur­ing the first round of the KPMG Women’s PGA golf cham­pi­onship at Westch­ester Coun­try Club in Har­ri­son, New York on Thurs­day, June 11.

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