Katherine Kirk won the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic with a four-day score of 22-under in 2017. She might better that this year. She opened the second annual event on Thursday morning with a course-record-tying 10-under, 62 to lead after the morning wave. It's her best round ever as a professional.
"I know you can go low here, stepping on the first tee I said 'let's make as many birdies as possible'," said Kirk. "I got off to a hot start and tried to keep the pedal down so I'm glad it worked it out."
Kirk was unconscious on the front nine. She made birdies on 10, 11 and 12 to start her round and then reeled off four more birdies to close her front nine at 7-under. She made another birdie on hole three and then closed the gem with two more for good measure on holes seven and nine.
There is just something about Thornberry Creek that brings the best out in Kirk, who hadn't won in seven years before her 2017 triumph. This year, she has missed the cut in five of her last six starts and is coming off the worst round of her professional career last Friday, but none of that matters when she tees it up in Oneida.
"I had no expectations to win, but there are good vibes here and I have a lot of confidence on this golf course," said Kirk. "It's a fun golf course to play, but it's a marathon, not a sprint. I told myself, 'Hey, listen, you've played well up in Green Bay so just go do it'. It's not rocket science."
Kirk said she was off to learn how to play pickle ball with Amy Olson and her husband, Tom. Nice way to enjoy the rest of the afternoon after a 10-under round.
Sei Young Kim carded a 9-under, 63 that included a stretch on her closing nine of six birdies in row, the most of her career. She stands in second place.
"Last year I shot 9-under in the final round, so if I played well in the second round or third round (I would have had a chance to win)," explained Kim, who finished third last year despite a second round 73. "I feel great to begin really well with a 9-under."
Brittany Marchand, who won a car with a hole-in-one last week at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, turned in an 8-under, 64 that included an incredible closing stretch of six birdies in her final seven holes. She shares third place with Megan Khang, who was bogey-free just like Kirk, Kim and Marchand.
Khang finished T8 last year at Thornberry Creek and knew coming in that she could go low again.
"I definitely knew that the course was gettable, low scores are going to be here," said Khang. "With the amount of rain we got (on Wednesday), we knew that we could go after some pins and just kind of take advantage of that because you don't know how the weather is going to hold up for the rest of the week."
Peiyun Chien, Carlota Ciganda and Ayako Uehara are three back at 7-under.