Belgian rookie Gonzalez Escallon shares LPGA lead with Kim

Golf - LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship

July 6 (The Sports Xchange) – South Korean Kim Sei-young and rookie Laura Gonzalez Escallon of Belgium shared the first-round lead at seven-under-par 65 at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in Oneida, Wisconsin on Thursday.

Gonzalez Escallon’s bogey-free round matched her career LPGA low. She birdied three of her first four holes and also four of her final five holes.

“I started really hot and then I kind of stumbled a little bit, so my goal was to finish strong, and I did that,” said Gonzalez Escallon, who is bidding to become the first Belgian to win on the LPGA Tour since Florence Descampe in 1992.

Kim birdied four holes en route to a 32 on the front before recording four birdies and a bogey on the back nine.

“It’s been a long time since I played well in the first round, so I’m very blessed to have shot a seven-under,” said Kim, the No. 11 player in the world.

“We have three more days, and I’m looking forward to the other days.”

American Madeleine Sheils and Kim Min-G of South Korea — both rookies — were at 66 after bogey-free rounds. Min-G Kim is attempting to make her first LPGA cut on her fourth try.

Chun In-gee of South Korea, who has posted five top-five finishes this season, was in a large pack on 67.

“I was a little down about my game during the last week, so I tried to enjoy my game again,” Chun said. “So I really enjoyed today, so I’m happy now.”

The tournament is one of four new LPGA events this season.

(Editing by Andrew Both)