After finishing in a tie for seventh at last week’s Dana Open presented by Marathon, Xiyu Lin finds herself at the top of the leaderboard through round one of the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G. Lin fired an 8-under 64 on Thursday, carding one bogey and nine birdies, five of which came in her first six holes. The score ties the second-lowest round of Lin’s LPGA Tour career – she last shot a 64 at the Honda LPGA Thailand earlier this season – and was good enough to give her a one-shot lead through the opening 18 holes.
“It's nice to start with three birdies in a row,” said Lin, who holds the first-round lead for just the third time in her career. “The first hole, the approach shot, the fairway was still a little bit wet so I'm just glad I got the distance right. Then the second hole, I rolled a putt in from outside of the green. And then third hole I knock it close again and make birdie. That was a dream start. You can't ask for a better start. So I just told myself (that I) need to keep going.”
Lin has been playing some solid golf this season, notching two other top-five finishes in addition to last week’s T7 result, including a solo second in Thailand in March. Ahead of the week at Kenwood Country Club’s Kendale Course, Lin ranked fifth in birdies (273), sixth in greens in regulation (76.12%) and 10th in scoring average (69.84). But despite all that success the nine-year Tour veteran is still looking for that elusive first win, and while there is plenty of golf left to play in the Queen City, Lin is aiming to become the ninth Rolex First-Time Winner of the 2022 season.
“I guess a little more trust in myself, because I've been working on the same thing for years and I put in hard work, so I just think I need to trust myself more and believe in myself, that I deserve to be out there and in contention and everything,” she said. “I mentioned during COVID that that was the time I realize I'm not one of the young kids anymore on Tour. So I feel a little bit tight on time. I'm definitely trying my best to chase my first win out here.”
Someone who is no stranger to winning on the LPGA Tour is Japanese native Nasa Hataoka. The Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 9 carded a 7-under 65 to kick off her week in Cincinnati, making eight birdies and one bogey, including five in six holes from Nos. 11-16, and sits one back of the lead with 54 holes to go. Hataoka was pleased with her putting and iron-play, but thought she could work on what she’s doing off the tee.
“I think I was able to manage the course. It's not very long, so I was able to hit my 3-woods really well,” said Hataoka who hit 12 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens on Thursday. “I still do need to adjust my tee shots, but other than that, my irons and putting are good. I have to keep that going.”
Aussie Sarah Kemp and 2020 U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica champion A Lim Kim are tied for third after carding matching 6-under 66s. Kemp made eight birdies and two bogeys during her round and hit 13 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, a solid ball-striking day that was critical to her success on the greens.
“I just hit it really solid. I had a lot of wedges that I hit inside ten feet and I made them. I don't think I holed a putt over maybe like 16 feet today, so I hit it really solid. I had a lot of good looks and I rolled them in,” said Kemp who needed just 26 putts to get the job done on the Kendale Course. “I think I hit all but one fairway. You can hit it at the pins and you're not going to get much roll. It's kind of hitting and stopping. It's actually a really nice golf course. I've really enjoyed it. The greens are running awesome.”
Six players sit in a tie for fifth at -5, including #LPGAMom Katherine Perry-Hamski, major champion Sei Young Kim and LPGA Tour rookies Atthaya Thitikul and Hye-Jin Choi. Fourteen-year-old Monday qualifier Gianna Clemente carded a 2-under 70 (T31) in her third consecutive LPGA Tour appearance and 36-year-old Paula Creamer aced the par-3 8th in just her second start since becoming a mother, en route to an even-par 72 (T64).