POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 28, 2013
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. >> Ha-Neul Kim saw friend Inbee Park after the world's top-ranked player took the lead in the morning session at the U.S. Women's Open.
Kim, with an afternoon tee time playing the major for the first time, wondered, "Wow, how did she shoot that score?"
Then Kim went out Thursday and shot one stroke better, finishing with a bogey-free, 6-under 66 to take the first-round lead at Sebonack.
Honolulu's Michelle Wie opened her round with a quadruple-bogey 8 on No. 10. She was at 11 over through 14 holes before birdies on three of the last four to finish with an 80.
She's tied for 141st place in a group including local amateur Mariel Galdiano, who at 15 is the second-youngest player in this year's Open.
Park is trying to make history by winning the first three majors of the year. For a day at least, she was upstaged by a much less-heralded fellow South Korean.
"I'm enjoying myself," Kim said through a translator. "I'm just happy to be here and to be playing in this big event. I'm not really thinking about winning or results but enjoying the moment."
Currently a member of the KLPGA Tour, Kim is a seven-time winner in South Korea. She kept giving herself short birdie putts Thursday and making them.
Kim birdied her second-to-last hole with daylight waning to claim the lead after Park held it for most of the day with her 67 in the morning session.
No player has won the first three majors in a season with at least four majors. The 2008 U.S. Women's Open champion, Park has already won five times this year, including her last two tournaments.
American Lizette Salas, Swedes Caroline Hedwall and Anna Nordqvist and South Korea's I.K. Kim shot 68.
Among eight players at 70 was Natalie Gulbis, who withdrew from a tournament and missed two others earlier this year because of malaria. Infected by a mosquito during the LPGA Thailand in late February, she returned for the Kraft Nabisco in early April. Gulbis hasn't finished better than 13th since, missing the cut at the LPGA Championship.
Defending champion Na Yeon Choi, second-ranked Stacy Lewis and 19-year-old amateur Kyung Kim from USC were among 11 players at 71.