Haeji Kang leads by 2 after first-round 67 at KEB-Hanabank Championship

Haeji Kang hits a tee shot during the first round of the KEB Hana Bank Championship.

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images


Haeji Kang shot a 5-under-par 67 on Thursday to take a two-stroke lead over five players, including three fellow South Koreans, after the first round of the LPGA’s KEB-Hanabank Championship.

Lee Il-hee and defending champion AmyYang shot 69s along with another South Korean, Mirim Lee. Australian Minjee Lee and Catriona Matthew of Scotland were also tied for second on the wind-swept Ocean Course at the Sky72 Golf Club.

"I think looking back on my game overall today, I did very well," Kang said. "Especially in the first nine holes, there were a couple of risks of actually bogeying some holes but I was able to stop and save with my putting."

There were eight golfers tied for seventh another shot back, including No. 4-ranked Suzann Pettersen of Norway and American Brittany Lincicome.

Second-ranked Inbee Park, who could move to No. 1 with a win in the absence of top-ranked Stacy Lewis of the United States, was a further shot back with a 71. Park married swing coach Gi Hyeob-nam on Monday in Seoul.

"Whenever I go to a tournament, I’m just very quiet and just doing my own thing," Park said. "This week I really tried to approach it the same way. Obviously it was a busy week and I didn’t get in a practice round."

Lincicome was pleased with her round given the tough conditions.

"Obviously nobody can prepare for the wind that was today," she said. "But I think today was more just staying calm and knowing that scores were not going to be super low and just try to be patient."


No. 3 Lydia Ko of New Zealand shot 73.

Eight of the top 10-ranked players are competing in the South Korean event.

U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie opened with a 76. She’s making her first start since withdrawing during the first round of the Evian Championship in September after reinjuring a stress fracture in her right hand.

Women’s British Open winner Mo Martin had a 78 in her return from a thumb injury. Fellow American Paula Creamer shot 81.

Martin played her round in a splint because of her injury and said she had to adjust her grip.

"I had no expectations today," Martin said. "I knew I was going to have to work back into tournament mode. I was going to have to see how my thumb held up. It’s going to be a process."