Crowded standings at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

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ROGERS, Ark. (AP) – At Lim Kim, Katherine Kirk and Eun-HI Ji each shot 8-under-63 on Friday for a one-shot lead over Sarah Burnham after the first round of the Walmart Northwest Arkansas Championship.

Five others – Nasa Hataoka, Lindsey Weaver, Pajaree Anannarukarn, Aditi Ashok and Klara Spilkova – were another comeback after 6 Under-65s at Pinnacle Country Club.

Kim of South Korea and Burnham have had career low rounds, while the 2009 US Women’s Open champion Ji tied the best of her career.

Kim, the 2020 Women’s US Open winner, only managed her first birdie on the seventh hole, which kicked off a five-game winning streak of numbers 7-11. She added another birdie in the 16th and punctuated his run with an eagle in the 18th par-5.

Kirk of Australia and Ji have each recorded eight birdies, and Burnham has seven, all without a bogey.

“It was fun,” said Kirk, three-time LPGA Tour winner. “I got off to a good start and this is the kind of golf course where you just have to keep the pedal down. Fortunately I was able to do it and I managed four birdies on each side.

Kirk is one of three golfers to have played in all 15 editions of the tournament, along with Brittany Lang and hometown favorite Stacy Lewis, the 2014 champion who played college at Arkansas in nearby Fayetteville. .

Lewis hides four shots back after opening a 67.

Lim is playing the event for the first time. She had no problem with the near perfect weather and scoring conditions.

“The tight grass and the light greens, I love it,” Lim said.

Burnham came in at No.132 on the CME points list and needs a good finish over the past four weeks to hold onto his LPGA card.

“I just wanted to get off to a good start today,” said Burnham. “I just told myself to swing easy and play smart and we’ll see what happens. Things went well and I put on a lot. It’s one of my favorite weeks on tour. The course is so beautiful with small coves all along the course and simply super nice greens.

Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, a two-time major and two-time winner this year, is among six players three strokes ahead after opening 66.

Some of the biggest names in the tournament are part of a squad of 13 4-under-par golfers, including Lewis, Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson and Minjee Lee. Amateur Brooke Matthews, an elder from Arkansas, was also under 4.

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