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Kim leads as Korda makes slow start in quest to extend LPGA Tour streak

South Korea’s Sei Young Kim made five birdies on the front nine on Wednesday and finished with the lead after the opening round of the T-Mobile Match Play in Las Vegas.

Kim carded a six-under-par 66 at Shadow Creek Golf Course, leaving her one stroke ahead of Rose Zhang and Danielle Kang.

Australia’s Minjee Lee, Japan’s Yuka Saso and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist are tied for fourth at three under par.

Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Germany’s Caroline Masson share seventh at two under, and seven players, including New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, are tied for ninth at one under.

World No 1 Nelly Korda has some work to do to extend her three-tournament winning streak after shooting a 73. Lorena Ochoa, in 2008, was the last LPGA Tour player to win four in a row.

Sei Young Kim walks off after finishing the 18th hole during the first day of the LPGA T-Mobile Match Play golf tournament at Shadow Creek on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in North Las Vegas, Nev. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)
Image: Sei Young Kim leads after the first round in Las Vegas

Ireland’s Leona Maguire finished at level par, along with Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow. Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh and England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff were both three over.

Wednesday and Thursday will comprise stroke play with a cut to the top 65 players and ties after 36 holes. The field will be cut to the top eight following stroke play on Friday.

Saturday morning will begin the single-elimination match-play bracket, with the semi-finals taking place Saturday afternoon and the championship match contested on Sunday.

Kim capped her early birdie binge with three in a row from holes six to eight. On the back nine, she had two birdies and her lone bogey of the day at the par-four 14th hole.

“The front nine I didn’t expect I [would] play that well,” she said. “Pretty solid round today. I’m very, yeah, happy with that.”

Kim, a 31-year-old veteran, owns 12 career LPGA victories, but none since 2020.

Zhang was one under par through 14 holes, then closed her round with four consecutive birdies on the front nine.

“I felt like I was just really patient out there,” the 20-year-old Californian said. “I had a really good game plan coming in. You kind of can’t really go at pins on this golf course, so making sure that I have my targets and iron play was pretty exceptional. So I really gave myself as many opportunities out there.”

Kang, playing on her home course, had a round similar to Zhang’s. She was one under par after the back nine, then added four birdies in a bogey-free front nine.

“It challenges you a lot,” Kang said of Shadow Creek. “I’ve heard that people have complained about the greens are too firm and they wanted it softer and they commented about the format and all that, but all MGM Resorts wants to do is keep you happy and make us happy and do whatever we want.

“At the end of the week, whoever plays well is going to be happy with whatever condition and whatever has been thrown at us.”

Defending champion Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand is tied for 40th at two over par.

Watch final two rounds of the T-Mobile Match Play live on Sky Sports Golf on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7 from 11pm. Stream the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and more of the best sport with NOW.

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