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Three tied for lead to open NW Arkansas Championship

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Australia’s Katherine Kirk and South Korean’s A Lim Kim and Eun-Hee Ji were tied for the first-round lead at the Walmart Northwest Arkansas Championship after shooting rounds of 8-under-par 63 on Friday.

All three co-leaders went bogey-free in the first round of the 54-hole tournament. Kim started on the back nine, posted an eagle on the par-5 18th hole and birdied her final three holes to make it a group at 8 under.

Kim, whose only LPGA Tour win came at the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open, was playing the event at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., for the first time.

“Tight grass and true greens,” Kim said. “I love it.”

Kirk, meanwhile, said she is playing the event for the 15th time in her lengthy LPGA career, which includes three victories, most recently in 2017. She compiled eight birdies — four on the front nine and four on the back.

“As a veteran I know I’ve got to remain patient and just keep doing the right things and eventually you’ll turn a corner,” Kirk said.

“I love this golf course, so good memories and good vibes and it was just a matter of going out there and having some fun.”

The trio at the top lead Sarah Burnham (64) by one stroke. Five are tied for fifth at 6-under, including Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, who posted the shot of the day with a hole-in-one at No. 11.

Hataoka, the U.S. Women’s Open playoff runner-up in June, now has three aces in her LPGA Tour career at just 22-years old.

“When I actually hit it, it didn’t get very good contact, but I thought it would kind of stop at the top but kind of got on the slope and came down and got the hole-in-one,” said Hataoka, who won this event in 2018.

–Field Level Media

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