Jiyai Shin leads; play suspended
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Jiyai Shin was in the middle of a solid round when a rain delay halted play at the LPGA Tour's Kingsmill Championship for two hours.
Facing a tough chip shot when she returned to the course, Shin spent the break worrying about how to handle it.
When she got the chance, she showed that she shouldn't have worried at all.
"I left with a tough chip shot, like 20 yards to the hole," Shin said after shooting a tournament-record 9-under 62 in Thursday's first round. "I'm really worried. ... How can I practice? In my mind, it was really hard. When I went back to there, I chipped it in."
The LPGA Tour initially said it would not count the round as a tournament record because the players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls because of already soggy conditions. But when tournament director Wayne Nooe said he would count it, the LPGA agreed.
With 33 players still on the course when play was halted by darkness, the 24-year-old Shin, from South Korea, was two shots ahead of the field. Her round matched the lowest on tour this season, and eclipsed the previous mark of 63, shared by seven players.
Shin had nine birdies in her bogey-free, career-best round.
Ranked as the No. 1 player in the world for 16 weeks in 2010, Shin is chasing her first LPGA Tour victory in more than two years. She won the Women's Open Championship in 2008 before it was a major, and is 13th on the money list, with a third and two ties for third her best finishes. She missed two months for wrist surgery and recuperation.
"Finally, I can say golf course is not too hard," said Shin, who is breaking in a new caddie this week. "My plan was no bogey. The rain helped make the greens softer, so I hit more aggressive on the back nine, too."
Dewi Claire Schreefel of The Netherlands could get to 62, too, or lower. She used an eagle on the par-5 7th hole (her 16th) to reach 7 under before play was suspended for the day at 7:26 p.m ET. Paula Creamer, Sweden's Maria Hjorth and Spaniards Azahara Munoz and Beatriz Recari are at 6-under 65. Four others, including local favorite Christina Kim, finished at 66.
The tournament marks the return of the LPGA Tour to Kingsmill's River Course after a two-year absence.
Including those yet to complete the first round, 75 players were under par Thursday.
Not among them was Cristie Kerr, the only two-time winner on the Pete Dye layout. Kerr hasn't won since 2010 and arrived hoping being back alongside the James River would help her generate some momentum. Instead, she finished with a 1-over 72.
Michelle Wie, with just one top 10 finish this year, shot a 4-over 75.
Play was halted by a thunderstorm at 12:24 p.m., and resumed at 2:20.
Creamer, 26, hasn't won since the 2010 U.S. Women's Open. She followed a first-hole bogey with a birdie at No. 2 and a chip-in eagle at the par-5 3rd. She closed the front nine with four straight birdies and logged nine consecutive pars coming home.
"I can't control what happens the next three days ... but for me, this is a big confidence booster," Creamer said. "I think about it every day (victory drought). With surgery and things like that, your body's not going to bounce back as fast as you would like it.
"I feel good. I feel I'm very happy. If I hit a bad shot, I hit a bad shot. I just move on and go for the next one."
Play was to resume at 7:10 a.m. Friday.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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