BETHESDA, Md. (UKTN) — To Gee Chun On Thursday, she moved to 8 under 64 to take a big lead in the first round of the PGA Women’s Championship.
While most of the field worked hard all day on the wet Congressional blue course, Chun birdied seven of eight holes during a streak. She was seven strokes better than anyone else who started in the morning, which threatened to break the record for the largest 18-hole lead in a women’s major – set by mickey wrightwho led this tournament by five strokes after 18 in 1961.
‘I don’t know what golf course In Gee is playing’, defending champion Nelly Korda said after finishing his round of 71.
Chun was playing the same course as everyone else – the one that underwent a full restoration last year. There was heavy rain in the area overnight and more precipitation during the game on Thursday morning. It smoothed the course, but also made the length of Congress — 6,809 yards for that opening round — more important.
No big deal for Chun, two-time major winner.
“The course, after a lot of rain, seems longer,” said the 27-year-old South Korean. “At the same time, the greens were softer. So I think it was just a balance.
Although there was plenty of golf to play, Chun’s first seven-shot lead certainly turned heads.
“I can’t stop looking at the rankings” Justin Thomas tweeted. “Lead par 7 halfway through day 1!!!!”
MORE ON HER TURF: Schedule, how to watch, course details for 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Hye Jin Choi was 3 under through 11 holes in the afternoon, one of several players who threatened to cut Chun’s lead – but not by much.
Chun, who started on the back nine, birdied Nos. 15, 16, 17 and 18. After a bogey on No. 1, she bounced back with three more birdies in a row.
Chun set a major championship record – male or female – when she won the Evian Championship in 2016 aged 21. She also won the US Women’s Open the previous year.
Korda was part of a 1 penny band, along with her gambling partner Brooke Henderson. An example of the course’s difficulty: Korda hit the pilot, hybrid and 7-wood while paring on the 587-yard ninth hole.
“It’s the longest par 5 I’ve ever played,” she said. “I was even happy to play the front nine.”
Chun hit all 14 fairways and said she was passing the time by discussing non-golfing topics with the caddy Dean Herden.
“We talk about kiwifruit because I love eating kiwifruit on the course,” she said. “It’s really hard to find a good kiwi in the supermarket. Fortunately, we have a good Korean supermarket near here, so I bought a good golden kiwi there.
If Chun continues to play like this, she may find it easy to relax on the course, but she will have a group of talented challengers chasing her. Jennifer Kupchowho won his first major at the Chevron Championship earlier this year, was 1 under. Phatium of Pornanong hit the second hole and was 2 under at eight.
All of these players could feel pretty close to the lead – if not for Chun.
“I feel like I played really well. The course is really tough,” Kupcho said. “I don’t really know how In Gee is 8 under right now. It’s definitely an outlier.
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In Gee Chun takes big lead at KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, originally appeared on NBCSports.com