After 18 holes at the BMW Ladies Championship, two-time KLPGA Tour winner Na Rin An leads at LPGA International Busan at -8 after a first-round 64, tying the tournament record set by Danielle Kang in the final round of 2019. An carded nine birdies with five coming in the final seven holes, and closed with a bogey on No. 18. Despite the unfortunate mistake, An was still pleased with her first day.
“I think overall today, even with my missed shots, I was able to make a nice recovery. And overall I was extremely satisfied with my putting. I think the putting went really well today, and that was behind my strong round,” said An, who is playing in just her second LPGA Tour event after a T63 finish at the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open. “I think in the last event [in 2019] and in this event as well, the greens tend to be faster, and I actually like the greens to be a little fast. And I think because of that I was able to read the green better, and I was able to execute my readings basically on the green better as well.”
The Rolex Rankings No. 69 is currently signed up for LPGA Q-Series, looking to earn her way onto the LPGA Tour. A win this week would grant her LPGA Tour Membership should she choose to take it. “Actually I started golf because I wanted to play on the LPGA Tour. So, yes, I hope to [make it on Tour],” said An. “I think when it comes to my mindset or my goals, they are largely the same regardless of whether I'm playing on the KLPGA or any other event. I think coming into this event, I hoped that I could win. So that is a hope for me at this point.”
KLPGA’s Ju Young Pak, younger sister of three-time LPGA Tour winner Hee Young Park, and major champion In Gee Chun sit in a tie for second at -7. Chun produced a bogey-free round, one of 14 players to do so on Thursday. “My ball-striking wasn't going very well, so I practiced a lot and I prepared a lot. And going into this round, my ultimate goal was to have a bogey-free round, which I did. So I would like to pat myself on the back for that,” said Chun. “And another goal I had was to not really miss any opportunities that arise, and I think I did that too.”
Three players recorded 6-under 66s to sit in a tie for fourth – five-time LPGA Tour winner Danielle Kang, 2020 U.S. Women’s Open champion A Lim Kim and Hae Ran Ryu. Seven players sit in a tie for seventh at -5, including Minjee Lee, who was the lone player to hit every green in regulation, and LPGA Tour rookie Esther Henseleit, who carded four consecutive birdies on Nos. 2-5, the third time she’s carded four straight this season.
“I holed a few long putts on the first few holes. Almost holed one 5-iron on -- I think it was on 5. So that was a tap-in birdie. And another solid birdie from about two and a half meters,” said Henseleit, who said the weather reminded her of her native Germany. “Yeah, it was nice to start that way.”
There are 26 players total within five of An’s lead. Defending champion Ha Na Jang is tied for 72nd at +2. Jang opened with a birdie on No. 1 but carded a double bogey and bogey on Nos. 6 and 7 respectively, and ultimately finished with a 74.