Kim grabs Australian Open clubhouse lead

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Emerging star Grace Kim has seized the Australian Open clubhouse lead with a blazing first round at Kingston Heath.

The 21-year-old birdied her first five holes en route to a seven-under-par 66 to claim an early two-stroke advantage over more-fancied major winners Hannah Green and Korea's former world No.1 Jiyai Shin.

A former Australian amateur champion, Kim is contesting her first Open as a professional just two months after earning her LPGA Tour card.

The Sydneysider secured one of 10 cards on offer from the secondary Epson Tour after finishing fifth in the Race to the Card standings.

In doing so, Kim became the first Australian since Green in 2017 to gain promotion to the LPGA Tour via the secondary tour and fittingly upstaged her celebrated compatriot on Thursday.

She briefly relinquished the lead to Green mid-round but wrestled it back with three more birdies on the back nine, including one at the last.

Like Kim, Green bagged eight birdies in her round but dropped three shots on her inward nine to sign for a five-under 68 to be tied for second with Shin. 

New Zealand's reigning Australian amateur champion Fiona Xu posted a four-under 68 at the neighbouring Victoria Golf Club to be outright fourth of the morning starters.

Tournament favourite and world No.4 Minjee Lee had an afternoon tee time at Victoria, which is co-hosting the first Australian Open since COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 and 2021 editions. 

The women's Open is being staged simultaneously with the men's event for the first time ever. 


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