At 7-under-par, Kim leads by two strokes over Dottie Pepper, who finished second in this event last year, and by four over four other players, including Grace Park and defending champion Karrie Webb.
With big names lurking, the day was to belong to 24-year-old Kim, however, who is searching for her fouth career LPGA Tour victory.
After picking up quick birdies at the second and third holes over the Magnolia Groves Golf Course, Kim slipped a bit with a bogey at the par-5 5th.
She atoned for the mistake with two more birdies at Nos. 5 and 8, however, and then went on to record four more over her final nine holes of the day.
I was able to go for a lot of birdies, Kim said following her round. I had birdie chances on every hole. I hit all 18 greens.
For defending champ Webb, scoring was not the problem on Day 1, but rather the odd bogey dampened her day.
The Australian and two-time major championship winner in 2001 rattled home five birdies, but saw her score drop with two blemishes on her round, one on each side.
Likewise, Pepper had it to 6-under for the round, but bogeyed the closing par-4 18th when her approach came up short of the green.
'I was a smidge in the rough and I was between clubs,' Pepper said. 'I hit it a little thin and actually ended up making a good five.
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