Kim with Another Strong Start


AUBURN, Calif. -- Christina Kim fired a 7-under-par 64 Thursday to take the opening-round lead of the Longs Drugs Challenge. She leads by one over Australia's Rachel Teske at The Ridge Golf Course.
Juli Inkster, a two-time champion and one of many local favorites, Michelle Estill, Miriam Nagl and Beth Bauer are knotted in third place at 5-under-par 66.
Kim opened on the back nine Thursday and hit a 6-iron to 15 feet to set up birdie at the 10th. She parred her next four holes before the par-5 15th. Kim reached the green with a 5-iron for her second shot, and two-putted for her second birdie.
Kim birdied the 17th and made the turn at 3-under-par 32.
The 20-year-old parred three holes around the turn, then she hit a 5-iron at the par-3 third. Kim ran home the 4-foot birdie putt then flew up the leaderboard with her play on the final four holes.
At the sixth, Kim had only 94 yards left for her second shot. She hit it to 3 feet and made the birdie putt to reach 5 under par for the championship.
Kim used a pitching-wedge for her second shot at the eighth and hit it to 7 feet. She drained the birdie putt, then went one clear of the field at No. 9. Kim wedged her third to 8 feet at the par-5 hole and sank the birdie putt to take the first-round lead.
Kim was born and raised in nearby San Jose, and all week she has tried to accommodate several ticket requests. She expects 30 or so friends and family members each round, but the second-year pro looks forward to it.
'I'm going to have an entourage tomorrow,' said Kim. 'There's no way to describe it, it just rocks. It's such an interesting golf course, and the fact that I'm two hours from home, it's so awesome.'
Kim has been close to the top of the leaderboard in two of her last three starts, including a heartbreaking second to Cristie Kerr at the State Farm Classic. Kim is still looking for win No. 1 on tour, but is just enjoying being in the hunt.
'To be able to be up here and saying, 'I'm playing up to par with some of the best in the world is just such a great feeling,'' said Kim. 'I won't have any idea what it would be like until I'm at the moment. It's been a roller coaster ride.'
Teske played the course from the first, but failed to tally a single birdie on the front nine. She caught fire on the back nine to get within one of the lead.
Teske hit a 5-iron to 2 feet to set up birdie at the 10th. At the par-5 11th, the Australian missed the green short, but chipped to 2 feet and tapped in for birdie. She made it three in a row at No. 12 when she rolled in a 15-footer.
She used a 4-iron at the par-3 14th, and ran her tee ball to 3 feet. Teske converted the birdie putt, then reached the par-5 15th in two with a 7-wood. Teske holed the 10-foot eagle putt to get to 6 under par for the tournament.
'I don't know what happened,' said Teske. 'It's been a while since I have struck the ball that crisply on so many shots. I gained a lot of confidence from that so I really enjoyed it.'
Defending champion Helen Alfredsson, Laura Davies, Kim Saiki, Pat Hurst, Candy Hannemann, Leta Lindley and last week's Safeway Classic champion Hee-Won Han are tied in seventh place at 4-under-par 67.
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