Hyo Joo Kim narrowly missed out on tying the tournament 18-hole scoring record at Old American Golf Club when she missed a long birdie putt on 18 that skimmed just right of the hole to close with a 7-under 64 for the lead at The Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America.
“Including last week, my putting hasn’t been good so I hadn’t been able to hit low scores. But my putting worked really well for the first time in a while so I was able to hit low scores and it was a satisfying day,” said the South Korean. “I’ve been getting some stress over the last couple tournaments because of putting. I just made sure I wasn’t becoming too sensitive and tried to get the distance right. I think playing it safe allowed me to not miss any birdie chances.”
Kim hasn’t had a win yet in 2023 but the five-time LPGA Tour winner has recorded eight top-10 finishes including two runner-up results at the FREED GROUP Women's Scottish Open and the ShopRite LPGA Classic. In her 16 starts this season, she has also earned three additional top-20 finishes and has not missed a cut. Her last win came in 2022 at the LOTTE Championship presented by Hoakalei.
“It’s good that I’m on top of the leaderboard often but it’s disappointing that I’m not at the top at the end of the week. I really want to stay at the top of the leaderboard after this week’s done,” said Kim.
Thirteen-year LPGA Tour veteran Azahara Munoz took an early lead during round one, shooting a 5-under 66 while playing in the first group of the day. The Spaniard had seven birdies on the card, which were highlighted by back-to-back chip ins on Nos. 6 and 7, and two bogeys. At the end of the day, she sits in T2 with Taiwan's Yu-Sang Hou, who shot a bogey-free round and her lowest 18-hole score of the season, and rookie Sofia Garcia from Paraguay, who was also bogey-free on Thursday.