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Archive for Friday, May 11, 2007

Lee leads Michelob birdie brigade

LPGA field takes advantage of ideal scoring conditions

May 11, 2007

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— Mi Hyun Kim was trying to figure out the speed of the practice green Thursday when she glanced at the scoreboard early in the first round.

Fresh off a victory last week, Kim saw evidence that the River Course at Kingsmill was there for the taking Thursday in the first round of the Michelob Ultra Open.

So Kim, and many others, took and took some more from the surprisingly receptive 6,306-yard layout. Of the 144 players, 69 shot par or better.

Sarah Lee tied the course record with an 8-under 63, and Kim was one back after a bogey-free 64 in wind-free conditions and with greens that were softer than usual.

"Easier than before," Kim said.

And she's one of only two players - 2005 winner Cristie Kerr is the other - to finish in the top 10 four straight times at Kingsmill.

Laura Davies and Birdie Kim shot 65s in the afternoon, when some wind kicked up on the course along the James River, but the assault on par lessened only slightly.

Lee, still seeking her first victory in her 124th tour start, had nine birdies - including five in a row on the front nine. The run included a winding, downhill 36-foot putt, and the round evoked memories for her of 2004, when she opened with a career-best 60 at Tuscon, Ariz., and finished second, also her best.

"I have three more rounds, so I have to be steady and (confident)," she said.

Mi Hyun Kim, who beat Hall of Famer Juli Inkster in a playoff Sunday in the SemGroup Championship in Oklahoma, started her round hoping to shoot 4 under, but found herself adjusting expectations upward.

"After nine holes, already 3 under, and after 10 holes, 4 under," she said. "OK, I make one more. And then after, one more, and I'm like, OK, try one more."

She finished with seven birdies and no bogeys.

The leaders had plenty of company in their aggressive approach.

Davies was bogey-free and said barely making the cut here last year sparked her emergence from a long funk. She's 10th on this year's money list after seven events.

"I had to hole a 3-footer on No. 9 to make the cut," she recalled of last year, when she tied for 66th, then won the money title on the Ladies European Tour.

"Miss that, and who knows where I would be now? Probably in a mental home."

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