Kirk shares LPGA lead in Michigan

P – Australian veteran Katherine Kirk has taken advantage of benign early conditions at the LPGA Tour’s Meijer Classic to grab a share of the first-round lead.

Kirk carded a seven-under 64 at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Thursday to move to the top of the leaderboard with Americans Lizette Salas and Dori Carter.

The trio hold a one-shot advantage over Jaye Marie Green and rookie Wei-Ling Hsu while Kris Tamulis was at 66 along with Q Baek, Ilhee Lee and Jane Rah.

Of the other Australians, Sarah Kemp (67), Sarah Jane Smith (68) and Minjee Lee (70) all started well but veteran Wendy Doolan was tied for 132nd after a five-over 76.

World No.1 Inbee Park, who lost to Miram Lee in a playoff last year, had three front-nine bogeys in a 70. Chella Choi, the Marathon Classic winner last Sunday in Ohio, opened with a 71.

The 33-year-old Kirk hasn’t enjoyed much success this year, making the cut in only one of her last six tournaments and her tie for 16th at February’s Australian Open is by far her best result of 2015.

She had two bogeys, but made seven birdies and an eagle on the 11th after reaching the green in two.

“We had perfect conditions this morning, hardly any wind and the greens were very receptive early on,” Kirk said.

“I’m really happy. I haven’t posted a round like that in a while so it feels good to finally get the rust off and shoot a low one.”

Salas built on her strong finish two weeks ago in the US Women’s Open, the 26-year-old shooting a bogey-free round.

In the Women’s Open in Pennsylvania, Salas finished with a 68 at difficult Lancaster to tie for 14th – her best finish since tying for 11th on Phoenix in March.

“My finish at the (US Women’s Open) kind of gave me that extra boost of confidence to really go low and that’s what I did today,” Salas said.

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