WILLIAMSBURG, Va. Jiyai Shin was in the middle of a solid round when a rain delay halted play at the LPGA Tour’s Kingsmill Championship for 2 hours.
Facing a tough chip shot when she returned to the course, Shin spent the break worrying about how to handle it.
When she got the chance, she showed that she shouldn’t have worried at all.
“I left with a tough chip shot, like 20 yards to the hole,” Shin said after shooting a tournament-record 9-under 62 in Thursday’s first round. “I’m really worried. … How can I practice? In my mind, it was really hard. When I went back to there, I chipped it in.”
The LPGA Tour initially said it would not count the round as a tournament record because the players were allowed to lift, clean and place their ball because of already soggy conditions. But when tournament director Wayne Nooe said he would count it, the LPGA agreed.
With 33 players still on the course when play was halted by darkness, the 24-year-old Shin, from South Korea, was two shots ahead of the field. Her round matched the lowest on tour this season, and eclipsed the previous mark of 63, shared by seven players.
Shin had nine birdies in her bogey-free, career-best round.
Ranked as the No. 1 player in the world for 16 weeks in 2010, Shin is chasing her first LPGA Tour victory in more than two years. She won the Women’s British Open in 2008 before it was a major, and is 13th on the money list with a third and two ties for third her best finishes. She missed two months for wrist surgery and recuperation.
“Finally I can say golf course is not too hard,” said Shin, who is breaking in a new caddie this week. “My plan was no bogey. The rain helped make the greens softer, so I hit more aggressive on the back nine, too.”
Dewi Claire Schreefel of The Netherlands could get to 62, too, or lower. She used an eagle on the par-5 7th hole (her 16th) to reach 7 under before play was suspended for the day at 7:26 p.m. Paula Creamer, Sweden’s Maria Hjorth and Spaniards Azahara Munoz and Beatriz Recari are at 6-under 65. Four others, including local favorite Christina Kim, finished at 66.
The tournament marks the return of the LPGA Tour to Kingsmill’s River Course after a two-year absence.
Including those yet to complete the first round, 75 were under par Thursday.
Not among them was Cristie Kerr, the only two-time winner on the Pete Dye layout. Kerr hasn’t won since 2010 and arrived hoping being back alongside the James River would help her generate some momentum. Instead, she finished with a 1-over 72.
Michelle Wie, with just one top 10 finish this year, shot a 4-over 75.
Play was halted by a thunderstorm at 12:24 p.m. and resumed at 2:20.
Creamer, 26, hasn’t won since the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open. She followed a first-hole bogey with a birdie at No. 2 and a chip-in eagle at the par-5 3rd. She closed the front nine with four straight birdies and logged nine consecutive pars coming home.
“I can’t control what happens the next three days … but for me, this is a big confidence booster,” Creamer said. “I think about it every day [victory drought]. With surgery and things like that, your body’s not going to bounce back as fast as you would like it.
“I feel good. I feel I’m very happy. If I hit a bad shot, I hit a bad shot. I just move on and go for the next one.”
Play was to resume at 7:10 a.m. Friday.
HILVERSUM, Netherlands Graeme Storm of England shot a course record 7-under 63 to lead the KLM Open by two shots in the opening round on Thursday.
Storm birdied three of his closing four holes on the Hilversumsche course. His effort was three shots fewer than his previous best score in the premier Dutch event.
“I made the birdies when I gave myself the chances, and I managed to get up and down when I missed the greens,” he said.
Storm teed up in the Netherlands ranked 353rd in the world. He wants to end the season inside the top 115 to retain full European Tour membership next season.
Martin Kaymer, Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin and Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti also surpassed the previous course record with their 5-under 65s to tie for second place.
Kaymer handed playing partner and Europe Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal a reminder of his capabilities before heading to the cup at Medinah outside of Chicago
Kaymer, who won the KLM Open two years ago, capped his round with an eagle at the 12th where he holed a 20-foot putt. Europe teammate Peter Hanson of Sweden also produced a 68 in his last event before the Ryder Cup.