11 Aug 2023 | Professional golf |

Kim, Kemp lead Aussies at AIG Women’s Open

by Tony Webeck

Grace Kim Round 1 AIG Women's Open
Grace Kim posted 1-under 71 on day one of the AIG Women's Open at Walton Heath Golf Club. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

Australian Grace Kim overcame two early bogeys to play her way into contention at the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath Golf Club in London.

Kim and fellow New South Wales native Sarah Kemp finished day one 1-under par and in a tie for 19th, just three strokes back of Round 1 leader Ally Ewing (68).

Ewing, chasing her first major title, posted five birdies in an up-and-down round before launching to the top of the leaderboard with an eagle at the par-5 16th.

A three-time winner on the LPGA Tour, Ewing’s best finish in the AIG Women’s Open is a tie for 16th in 2017 and she impressed in the idyllic conditions over the heathland to claim the early advantage among the 144-player field.

The six-strong Aussie contingent all ensured they would enter Round 2 with tournament aspirations intact.

World No.10 Minjee Lee was prominent on the leaderboard early but had a bogey and double bogey along with two birdies in her final four holes for a round of even par 72 and share of 33rd.

With dropped shots at one and five it was a less than ideal start for Kim yet the 22-year-old underlined her immense talent with a tremendous fightback across the following 13 holes.

It started with a birdie at the par-5 sixth which she backed up with a second at the par-4 seventh to get back to even par.

Kim moved into red figures with a third birdie at the par-5 11th and then parred her way in to sit just inside the top 20 through 18 holes.

Top 10 a week ago at the FREED Group Scottish Open, Kemp posted five birdies and four bogeys to also post 71.

A bogey at the second hole – the hardest hole on the golf course in Round 1 – was countered by birdies at six and seven before a fluctuating start to the back nine.

Bogeys at 10, 11 and 13 were offset by birdies at 12, 14 and 15, three pars to finish marking a solid start to her championship.

One back of Minjee Lee, three Aussies are in a tie for 60th after rounds of 1-over 73.

Making her major championship debut and playing in the final group, Kelsey Bennett surged inside the top 20 with three straight birdies after making the turn.

One of five players to survive a 13-for-5 playoff at final qualifying on Monday, Bennett dropped shots at 13 and 15, picked up another birdie at 16 but made bogey at the last to end the day over par.

She is level with Stephanie Kyriacou and Hannah Green in a bunched leaderboard, Green ending her day with consecutive bogeys while Kyriacou fought back after early bogeys at two and three to be only five shots off the lead.

Round 1 scores 1 Ally Ewing 68 T19 Grace Kim 71 T19 Sarah Kemp 71 T33 Minjee Lee 72 T60 Hannah Green 73 T60 Kelsey Bennett 73 T60 Stephanie Kyriacou 73 T81 Lydia Ko (NZ) 74

Round 2 tee times AEST 3.30pm Meghan Maclaren, Sarah Kemp, Kylie Henry 4.14pm Eun Hee Ji, Grace Kim, Stephanie Meadow 5.20pm Allisen Corpuz, Hyo Joo Kim, Hannah Green 7.48pm Johanna Gustavsson, Chloe Williams, Kelsey Bennett 8.54pm Akie Iwai, Marina Alex, Steph Kyriacou 9.38pm Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Danielle Kang 10pm Nelly Korda, Lydia Ko (NZ), Charley Hull

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