Siam Country Club, Old Course
Feb. 17, 2011
I.K. KIM, -9, Rolex Rankings No. 7
JULI INKSTER, -6, LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member
YANI TSENG, -6, Rolex Rankings No. 1
I.K. Kim tied the tournament record with a 9-under-par 63 on Thursday at the Honda LPGA Thailand. On the strength of nine birdies, the 22-year-old Rolex Rankings No. 7 took a three-shot lead over Hall of Famer Juli Inkster and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng after 18 holes at Siam Country Club’s Old Course. Kim, who resides in San Diego, started her day with a birdie at the par-5 first hole and never looked back, nearly holing a birdie chip on 18 to set a new tournament record. She joins Suzann Pettersen (2007), Stacy Prammanasudh (2009) and last year’s champion Ai Miyazato in the record books with her bogey-free performance. Kim’s 9-under-par performance matches her career-best, set at the 2010 Tres Marias Championship where she carded a 9-under-par 64 (par 73) in the final round to finish fourth.
31-time Tour winner Juli Inkster over came a rocky start to shoot 66. Looking for her first victory since the 2006 Safeway International Presented by Coca-Cola, Inkster recovered from back-to-back bogies at two and three to shoot 6-under-par 66, three shots back of leader I.K. Kim. With her next victory, Inkster would become the oldest winner in LPGA Tour history. The LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member is fourth all-time with over $13 million earned.
Tseng looks to go “4 For 4”. Yani Tseng has teed it up at three events this season – once on the Asian Ladies Golf Tour (ALGT) and twice on the Ladies European Tour (LET) – and has three trophies to show for it. Tseng is looking to continue her streak this week following a first-round 66 that included birdies at 17 – a 25-foot putt – and 18 to move three shots back of leader I.K. Kim.
Who will punch their “Ticket to Titleholders” this week? The top-three players at the end of the Honda LPGA Thailand will earn tickets to the season-ending Titleholders at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. Each official tournament will send three players to Titleholders this season. If the tournament ended today, I.K. Kim, Juli Inkster and Yani Tseng would have earned their tickets.
Of note… Inkster holed out for eagle from 98 yards with a sand wedge on No. 7… 2007 Honda champion Suzann Pettersen is alone in fifth at 4-under-par 68… Defending champion Ai Miyazato had a tough start on Thursday with a 3-over-par 75… Paula Creamer birdied 17 and 18 to get to 3-under-par 69.
I.K. KIM, -9
MIKE SCANLAN: Thanks for coming in, I.K.
I.K. Kim: Thanks for having me.
MIKE SCANLAN: Great round today tying the tournament record with a 9-under-par 63. Three players have previously shot that, so you’re the fourth.
I.K. KIM: Awesome.
MIKE SCANLAN: Just take us through your day. What a great way to being the 2011 season.
I was really excited to come here and play the first event. I saw I was teeing off first today and thought that was kind of lucky. A little bit cooler weather than the other players. I started with a birdie and kept making birdies somehow. I didn’t think about what I was going to do, I just played every shot. My coach was caddying for me today and helped me a lot. We have been working on little changes, but the first event, you never know. You’re excited and you want to see what’s going on. I think it was a really good start. Couldn’t be happier.
Q. Take us through your day. You started with a birdie and got to 6- or 7-under through 12. Were you thinking about going low today?
I.K. KIM: Because it was the first round of the first tournament, I didn’t really think about anything. I didn’t really make a goal or try to set a record. I think that helped me play better today. I guess I should do that more often (laughing).
Q. Take us through your offseason. What did you work on? What did you do away from the golf course?
I.K. KIM: First of all, I went back to Korea three or four weeks to just rest. We had a long season. I played 22 events, so I had to get some rest. Had a great time with family and friends back home. Even though I love San Diego, you know what home feels like. It was great to be home, then come back to San Diego in January. I had three, four weeks off and I hadn’t done much, so it was kind of like, what do I do? I started with the basics, stance, grip, little things. I didn’t have much time to change much. Just got back into training mode and it was good.
Q. You just shot the course record. Same routine tomorrow?
I.K. KIM: Same routine. I’ll adjust a little, hit some balls, a little putting. The main thing is to eat well, sleep well, because it’s so hot. You never know when you’re tired out here. You have to take care of yourself first and the results will come.
Q. How were the course conditions?
I.K. KIM: Actually, we had preferred lies today. With the amount of rain we had Tuesday, the course is in great condition, especially the greens, they’re firm. The fairways, I didn’t see any puddles. The course is in great shape, obviously. I like it a lot.
JULI INKSTER, -6
Q. Back-to-back bogies on two and three, but a 6-under-par round today. Tell us about it.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I hit a bad shot on three and on two, I hit a good shot, but I couldn’t get up and down. I hung in there and started hitting some really good irons and got some birdies. I didn’t really get in too much trouble today. Hit my irons really good.
Q. Did you see the number that I.K. posted today?
JULI INKSTER: Oh, yeah. I told T.J. (caddy) that 9-under on this golf course is a good round. I’m really happy with how I played though.
Q. Talk about your offseason.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I’ve been working on my swing trying to get a little more back. I get too forward. Trying to make a better turn through the ball. My miss is to the right and I didn’t hit any right today. That was good for me.
Q. How do you explain how you are on the top of the leader board and the oldest player in the field?
JULI INKSTER: I enjoy what I do. I get to travel, go to Thailand. It beats being home and being a housewife.
Q. What made the difference today versus previous trips to Thailand?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I just played better today. I’m usually a slow starter out of the shoot at the start of the year and I kind of, after 2-over after three I was kind of thinking that way, but you know, I made some good birdies and it got me going. I holed it out on No. 7 for eagle (sand wedge from 98 yards). Golf is a funny game. You ride it when you can and hold on when you can when it’s not going well. I rode it today.
Q. What do you like about Thailand?
JULI INKSTER: I love the massages (laughing). The people are very nice and it’s a beautiful country.
Q. The food?
JULI INKSTER: The foods good. I like the Pad Thai. We had a noodle thing last night that was good. When it comes to food, I’m pretty basic.
Q. So you’ll get Thai massages every day now?
JULI INKSTER: I don’t know if I need it, but I get it (laughing).
YANI TSENG, -6
Q. 6-under, a great start to the tournament. Tell us how you played.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, for sure it’s a pretty good round for this course. It’s playing longer this year. I hit lots of 7-iron, 6-iron, 5-iron which is totally different from last year. I just didn’t hit my irons as good, but I’m staying patient and I hope the next three days get better.
Q. Is your success early this year helping you this week?
YANI TSENG: Oh yeah, that’s for sure. It helps a lot with my confidence. I feel like I can make lots of birdies.
Q. Did anything stand out today in your round?
YANI TSENG: The only long putt I made today was on the 17th, a long birdie, maybe 25 feet. That was the best one. I missed an eagle putt on 18 and I was upset, but still three more days to go and lots of birdies out there.