Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow both endured slow starts on the opening day of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional as In Gee Chun stormed into the lead.
Maguire and Meadow were looking to emulate their compatriot Rory McIlroy at the site of his maiden victory but it was Chun who gave us a throwback to 2011 as she bullied the Blue Course into submission in a stunning course record eight-under 64.
The Korean has opened up a five-shot gap after she recovered from an opening bogey with nine birdies in her next seventeen holes.
After a lean period lately Chun never doubted her game and was happy to ‘trust the process’ and see her hard work come to fruition as she took advantage of the soft golf course.
“I think golf is all about the process, so after I had a couple of not good weeks before, so I felt really bad after that, but I’m trying to make the focus on the course for the process, not for the result. That helps a lot. I’m trying to enjoy to play golf more on the course, more talk with my caddie. I’m happy with the good round today.
“The course after a lot of rain feels longer. I had a couple of good shots with my woods. That’s how I had birdie chance. At the same time the greens were softer, so I think it was just good balance.”
Meadow is on one-over after an opening 71 where she dropped three shots late on in her round.
The Jordanstown native was putting together an excellent round at two-under after fourteen holes before a bogey on fifteen was followed by a double-bogey six on the seventeenth as she slipped to a share of 31st place.
The 30-year-old was in one of the early groups playing the course from back to front and after a birdie, bogey start she rallied with ten successive pars before two birdies in three holes lifted her into the top-3.
Unfortunately a poor finish halted her progress but she is only four shots adrift of Hye-Jin Choi and Pornanong Phatlum in second place.
Maguire has been in fine form lately with a top-10 at the US Open and a runner-up finish last week at the Meijer Classic and arrived with high expectations that she could follow in Rory’s footsteps.
The world number 17 has a lot of work to do after a two-over 72. It was a frustrating day for the Cavan native who played solidly hitting 13 of fourteen fairways and 13 greens in regulation.
The 27-year-old missed a three-footer in her playoff defeat to Jennifer Kupcho last week and the flat stick was cold again in her opening round as she took 32 belts with the putter.
In the end she carded sixteen pars and a pair of bogeys on the 5th and 15th and she trails Chun by ten shots heading into the final three rounds.
Defending champion Nelly Korda continued her eye-catching return from a blood clot with a one-under 69 to lie in a share of seventh place with Brooke Henderson, Jennifer Kupcho and Nasa Hataoka.
Despite a dropped shot on the 18th she was happy with how she dealt with the weather which she described as “brutal.”
“I think every part of it is clicking. I’m hitting it pretty good off the tee. I’m hitting my irons well, and I’m making some putts when I need to.
“So I think overall every part of my game is kind of syncing up together.
“Any first round under par is good at a major. I don’t know what golf course In Gee is playing. She must be playing really well. I would think when I tee it up today, I would be very happy with the score that I shot.”
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