Helen Alfredsson and Dorothy Delasin share second place after opening with 5-under-par 66s. Kim Saiki is alone in fourth place at 4-under-par 67.
Annika Sorenstam, the No. 1 player in the world, opened with a 2-under-par 69 and is tied for 11th place.
Michelle Wie, the 14-year-old amateur star who took fourth at the season's first major, the Nabisco Championship, shot a first-round, 1-over-par 72 and is part of a group tied for 46th.
'I think I played okay,' said Wie. 'It wasn't a great round. It wasn't a terrible round. It was just an okay round. I wasn't playing that good and I was really proud of myself because I kind of hung in there.'
Kang started on the back nine at Kingsmill and knocked a wedge to tap-in range to set up birdie at the 11th. At the par-3 13th, Kang hit a 7-iron left and made bogey.
The miscue at the 13th would be Kang's last of the round. She took advantage of the par-5 15th when her third stopped 3 feet from the hole. Kang sank the short birdie putt and made the turn at 1 under par.
Kang parred the first two holes of her second nine but rebounded at the par-5 third. Her third landed 4 feet from the stick and she holed the putt, then picked up back-to-back birdies at four when she drained a 10-footer. Kang rattled off her third consecutive birdie at the fifth when her 7-iron nearly went in the cup but she settled for the tap-in birdie.
Kang, now one shot off the lead, ran home another short birdie putt at the par-5 seventh to tie Alfredsson and Delasin in first. Kang took sole possession of the lead at the ninth, her 18th, when she rolled home a 10-foot birdie putt.
'I like this course,' said Kang, who missed the cut in last year's inaugural event. 'Today, everything was matching. I got the feeling after the Takefuji for putting and short game. I am playing good.'
Alfredsson made only seven pars on Thursday, as she mixed eight birdies and three bogeys in her round.
Alfredsson took some time off last season to evaluate the status of her game. The Swede did not have the desire as in years past but Alfredsson thinks the layoff ultimately did her good.
'It was a lot of fun today actually. I hit the fairways, as you need to do around here,' said Alfredsson. 'I started with a new coach. You try to work a little bit more long-term and I really like him and he's close where I live in Orlando. I had fun going there and I had fun because I felt like it was getting better.'
Delasin collected three birdies before her first bogey at the 16th, her seventh of the round. She added three more birdies before joining Alfredsson in a share of second place.
Kim Williams, Carin Koch, Juli Inkster, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc, Christina Kim and Michele Redman are knotted in fifth place after opening rounds of 3-under-par 68.
Grace Park, who won the Nabisco Championship in late March and captured this title last year, matched Wie in a share of 46th place at 1-over-par 72.