June 28 (Reuters) - Park Sung-hyun bounced back from a poor performance in the previous major to take a one-shot lead in the first-round at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship outside Chicago on Thursday.
Park, among several long hitters who revelled in soggy conditions, carded six-under-par 66 on a Kemper Lakes course that was drenched by rain earlier in the week.
Four weeks after missing the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open, where she was defending champion, the South Korean was more assured, particularly on the greens, as she gathered six birdies.
Americans Jessica Korda, Brittany Altomare and Jaye Marie Green and Canada’s Brooke Henderson were tied for second on 67.
“I agree that the course is long and difficult, and I think it’s pretty big benefit for the long hitter,” Park told reporters. “As the score says, it went pretty well.”
Park said poor putting had cost her at the U.S. Women’s Open.
“I felt like something little was missing, especially my putting, but this week I feel pretty comfortable and confident,” she added.
“I changed my putter, and I made some change in the putting routine.”
The powerful Korda was also delighted that the course, which offered very little roll, played so long and allowed her to unleash her driver.
“It was wet out there, so managing each shot was tough, but I love the way they set up the golf course,” she told reporters.
“I could finally hit drivers. It wasn’t an iron or three-wood off every tee.
“This is a major and it played like a major golf course.”
Korda, winner of the LPGA Thailand in February, has been trying to remain patient recently while enduring a frustrating run with the putter.
“I’ve been hitting the ball really well and been burning every edge,” said the five-times PGA Tour winner.
Henderson overcame an awful start when she made bogeys at her first two holes, to match Korda’s 67.
She “started grinding away” and stemmed the bleeding, before a birdie at her ninth hole opened the floodgates and she added six more on her inward half.
“I started to hit it really close and was able to make a few putts,” said Henderson, who won the event two years ago.
Champion Danielle Kang did not fare as well on Thursday as she battled to a 73 that was marred by a late double-bogey. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)