South Korean leads after shooting a 62
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- One way to measure the quality of a golf course is by the champions it produces. By that standard, the River Course at Kingsmill Resort is on a short list of the best.
All six of the players who have won LPGA events here were major champions. In the opening round of the Kingsmill Championship on Thursday, another of their ilk was inspired by the magnificent Pete Dye design on the James River.
In firing a bogey-free 9-under-par 62, Jiyai Shin of South Korea ignored a lengthy rain delay to establish a new 18-hole tournament record and take a two-shot lead. Shin, winner of the 2008 Women's British Open and former world No. 1, had nine birdies, hit 13 of 14 fairways and needed only 23 putts.
"Very impressive, thank you," said Shin, who speaks little English.
Shin thrived despite a 1-hour, 51-minute rain delay, which interrupted her round while she was on the 13th hole. She then made consecutive birdies on holes 15 through 17 to grab the lead, establish her career best for 18 holes and match the low round this year on the tour.
Shin, 24, has eight LPGA victories but none in the last 22 months. She was off for two months, recovering from surgery to her left wrist in May. A tie for seventh last month at Toledo was evidence that Shin was rounding into form.
"It was good rest for me," Shin said. "[I felt] refreshed in my mind when I came back."
Another player with a similar resume, Paula Creamer, is three shots back. Creamer, who has nine LPGA victories but none since capturing her first major at the 2010 U.S. Open, didn't react as well to the delay. After she played the final eight holes of the front nine in 7-under par, Creamer made nine pars on the back.
"I didn't make any more birdies on the back side, but I still played really well," Creamer said. "It's been a long day, and I'll take a 65, that's for sure."
Creamer is tied at 6 under with Azahara Munoz and Beatriz Recari of Spain and Maria Hjorth of Sweden. Dewi Claire Schreefel of the Netherlands made a late run to 7 under with two holes left when play was called with 33 players left on the course.
Like Shin, Creamer knows about left wrist surgery. Her procedure came in 2010, and her swing remains a work in progress. On practice swings and waggles, she accentuates her wrist cock early.
"After surgery my left arm and my hand and my thumb were just incredibly weak and [my swing] started getting more flat," said Creamer, 26. "I'm starting to feel it so much more with that one little move. I can't tell you why. It just kind of clicks."