Just like on the JLPGA today, only 4 players broke 70 in the 1st round of the Hana Bank Championship, with Song-Hee Kim and Vicky Hurst taking a 1-shot lead over Na Yeon Choi and Amy Hung. Trailing by 2 are last week's winner Jimin Kang, the red-hot Mika Miyazato, the almost-as-hot Katherine Hull and Jee Young Lee, rookie Amanda Blumenherst, the KLPGA's So Yeon Ryu, Euro hottie Karine Icher, and a study-abroad student you may have heard of by the name of Michelle Wie. With the likes of Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen, Juli Inkster, Brittany Lincicome, and Stacy Lewis only 3 behind the co-leaders and In-Kyung Kim, Paula Creamer, and Morgan Pressel only 4 off the pace, anything can happen over the weekend. I wouldn't even count out Ji-Yai Shin, Inbee Park, and Amy Yang at +1, Christina Kim and Seon Hwa Lee at +2, or the KLPGA's Hee Kyung Seo and Jung Min Lee at +3, although they'll all need to go pretty low to claw their way back into contention.
As Mike Southern noted, Song-Hee Kim made it to -5 before bogeying the par-4 16th. Defending champion Na Yeon Choi also made 5 birdies today, but twice bogeyed par 4s on the back. Most of the other big-name players weren't as sharp. Shin, for instance, was -1 through 13 but doubled the par-4 14th and bogeyed the par-3 17th before bouncing back with a walkoff birdie on the par-5 18th. Her playing partner Wie needed 2 birdies in her last 2 holes to offset her 2 bogeys in her previous 5 holes that had erased her pair of birdies on the front. The 3rd member of the group, Kerr, had it going for a while with 3 birdies in a 5-hole stretch late on the front, but couldn't sustain her momentum for the next 5 holes before slipping with bogeys on 14 and 16. Her only bright spot after the 8th hole was a birdie on the par-4 15th.
But hey, at least they didn't lose it like the 14 players who failed to even shoot a 75, among them KLPGA stars Shin-Ae Ahn (76), Bo-Mee Lee (77), and Ran Hong (79) and LPGA stalwarts Hee Young Park (76), Momoko Ueda (77), and Brittany Lang (77). Good thing for them there's no cut this week!
[Update 1 (5:06 am): Here are notes and interviews from LPGA.com.]
[Update 2 (9:36 am): Here's Hound Dog's overview.]