LPGA KEB • HanaBank Championship First-Round Recap

Amy Yang
Photo Credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Amy Yang of South Korea reacts after a shot during the first round of LPGA KEB • HanaBank Championship at Sky 72 Golf Club Ocean Course on October 18, 2013 in Incheon, South Korea.

There is a logjam atop of leaderboard after the first-round of the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship as four players fired 5-under 67’s to grab ahold of the lead. 

LPGA Tour players Katherine Hull-Kirk, Amy Yang, Anna Nordqvist and KLPGA Tour player Ju Young Pak will take a 1-stroke lead over Caroline Hedwall into tomorrow’s second-round.

It has been a four year winless drought for Swede Anna Nordqvist, who last made her way to the winner’s circle at the 2009 LPGA Tour Championship Presented by Rolex, but after recording six birdies and one bogey in the opening round, she has inched her way closer to hoisting the trophy on Sunday. 

“I would definitely like to win again, that’s why we’re out here,” said Nordqvist. “I feel like I put myself in a couple of good positions I just haven't really finished well. All I can do is try to get better each day and right now that's what I'm trying to focus on. Everything else will happen.”

Despite the solid first-round for Nordqvist, she admitted the round could have been even lower if only a few more putts would have rolled-in. 

“I hit the ball really, really well today,” said Nordqvist. “I gave myself a lot of good opportunities and hit quite a few close. I think I still had three or four lip-outs and still shot 5-under. I'm very happy with the day and I felt good out there.”

Also looking to put an end to a winless drought is Katherine Hull-Kirk, who hasn’t won since the 2010 Navistar LPGA Classic. 

“The last few years have been a little bit frustrating but at the same time, I've learned a lot and I think I'm a better player now than I was even when I won,” said Hull-Kirk. “I think my best golf is still ahead of me, so I'm excited for the future and hopefully a lot more wins.”

With her game better than ever, the Aussie wasted little time moving into the red numbers after reeling off three birdies in her first three holes. Momentum continued to swing Hull-Kirk’s way during the remaining opening 9-holes as she made the turn at 5-under needing only 11 putts. 

“I had a hard time on the first nine holes I played,” said Hull-Kirk. “I think I had 11 putts through the first nine holes, so that was really what got my round going.”

Despite cooling off a bit on the back-nine, Hull-Kirk feels right at home this week in South Korea and on the immaculate Sky 72 Golf Club. 

“This is definitely one of best golf courses we play all year,” said Hull-Kirk. “It's always in perfect condition. The bunkers are great and I really love the greens here because they are so true and they roll probably on the faster scale for us.”

Also joining Hull-Kirk and Nordqvist at the top of the leaderboard is South Korean Amy Yang. Feeling a bit under the weather this week, Yang was able to persevere as she carded six birdies and one bogey in the opening round. 

Yang got off to a bit of a slow start during Friday’s first-round after recording a bogey on the first hole. Things would soon begin to heat-up for Yang however as she reeled off five consecutive birdies on holes four through eight.

“It's been a long time since I played in Korea, so I had a lot of family and friends around me,” said Yang. “So in the beginning I was a little bit nervous, but later on I had better concentration and focus on the game, so I made five birdies in-a-row.” 

From South Korea, this week marks the first-time the sixth-year LPGA Tour member has returned home. Reunited with her family and friends this week, Yang is making the most of her time and indulging in some of South Korea’s delicious fare. 

“It's really nice,” said Yang. “This is -- since last winter, I wasn't able to come home. So I can see my family and also I can eat as much as I want to. So it's real nice.” 

Rounding out the group of players tied atop the leaderboard is KLPGA Tour member Je Young Pak. The younger sister of LPGA Tour standout Hee Young Park, turned to her sister to show the ropes of this week’s event.

“When I was walking around the official golf course with my sister, she gave a lot of lessons and also how to address the certain play,” said Pak. “That was a big help.”

Topics: LPGA KEB • HanaBank Championship

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