South Korea’s Chun In-gee shot a record eight-under 64 to take a five-shot lead at the PGA Women’s Championship on Thursday.
The 27-year-old two-time major champion notched nine birdies and just one bogey at Congressional Country Club outside Washington to tie the lowest opening round in PGA Women’s Championship history set by Nicole Castrale in 2006.
Chun’s remarkable run was also a course record at Congress, the 98-year-old historic venue hosting a major women’s championship for the first time.
Unaware of the wet conditions that extended the course – two inches of rain had been dumped on the course overnight – Chun’s turn erupted just before the turn when she landed four straight birdies to go five under.
A bogey on his 10th hole of the day briefly halted his momentum before another trio of birdies on his 11th, 12th and 13th holes brought him down to seven under.
Another three-hole birdie from home left her on eight under.
“I didn’t think about the whole story of today’s course,” Chun said. “I continue to birdie as much as I can.
“After a lot of rain, the course feels longer. I had some good shots with my woods. That’s how I got a birdie chance.
“At the same time, the greens were softer, so I think it was just a good balance.”
Chun’s spectacular round left her five strokes clear of compatriot Choi Hye-jin and Thailand’s Pornanong Patlum, who both posted 69 at three under par.
American Jennifer Chang and South African Paula Reto were six strokes off the lead on two under, tied for fourth.
Nine women – including in-form Jennifer Kupcho, Canadian Brooke Henderson and defending champion Nelly Korda – lead seven after earning a 71-under-par card.
Korda battled through the conditions with three birdies and two bogeys – including a five on the 18th – but was content to go under par.
However, the American admitted she was surprised by Chun’s flamboyant first round.
“Any first round under par is good in a major,” Korda said. “I don’t know what golf course In-gee is playing on. She must be playing very well.
“I think when I played it today I would be very happy with the score I shot.”
Korda had no doubts about how the rain-soaked course had played.
“Long. It was really, really long,” she said. “Especially for me. I’m one of the longest hitters on the tour, and it was a long one.”
Kupcho, who beat Korda and Ireland’s Leona Maguire in the playoffs last weekend to win the Meijer LPGA Classic, was also taken aback by Chun’s record scoring on the course given the conditions.
“It was really windy with a lot of fog and rain. I haven’t played in the rain for a while either,” Kupcho said. “A tough challenge there in the top nine.
“I feel like I played really well. The course is really tough. I don’t really know how In-gee is eight under right now. It’s definitely an outlier.”