Aussie Kirk in three-way tie for LPGA lead
Katherine Kirk is part of a crowded leaderboard after shooting an eight-under-par 63 in the opening round of the LPGA's Arkansas Championship.
The Australian is tied with South Korean's A Lim Kim and Eun-Hee Ji for the lead, after all three went bogey-free in the 54-hole tournament at the Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers.
Kirk is playing the event for the 15th time in her lengthy LPGA career, which includes three victories, most recently in 2017.
She compiled eight birdies - four on the front nine and four on the back.
"As a veteran I know I've got to remain patient and just keep doing the right things and eventually you'll turn a corner," Kirk said.
"I love this golf course, so good memories and good vibes and it was just a matter of going out there and having some fun.
"I got off to a good start and this is the kind of golf course where you just have to keep the pedal down. I was fortunately able to do that and rattled in four birdies on each side."
Kim, whose only LPGA Tour win came at the 2020 US Women's Open, is playing the event for the first time.
She started on the back nine, posted an eagle on the par-5 18th hole and birdied her final three holes.
"Tight grass and true greens," Kim said. "I love it."
The trio lead Sarah Burnham (64) by one stroke. Five are tied for fifth at six-under, including Japan's Nasa Hataoka, who posted the shot of the day with a hole-in-one at No.11.
Hataoka, the US Women's Open playoff runner-up in June, now has three aces in her LPGA Tour career at just 22-years of age.
"When I actually hit it, it didn't get very good contact, but I thought it would kind of stop at the top but kind of got on the slope and came down and got the hole-in-one," said Hataoka, who won this event in 2018.
Australia's Minjee Lee, who won the 2021 Evian Championship to claim her first major, is tied 16th.
Lee shot 67 to be four behind the lead and two ahead of compatriot Sarah Kemp.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails