In Gee Chun races to record-tying 5-shot lead at Women’s PGA

Jun 23, 2022, 1:54 AM | Updated: 5:48 pm
Hye-Jin Choi, of South Korea, tees off on the 18th hole during the first round in the Women's PGA C...

Hye-Jin Choi, of South Korea, tees off on the 18th hole during the first round in the Women's PGA Championship golf tournament at Congressional Country Club, Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

              Hye-Jin Choi, of South Korea, tees off on the 18th hole during the first round in the Women's PGA Championship golf tournament at Congressional Country Club, Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
            
              Pornanong Phatlum, of Thailand, holds her ball after putting on the 17th hole during the first round in the Women's PGA Championship golf tournament at Congressional Country Club, Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
            
              Jennifer Kupcho waits to tee off on the 17th hole during the first round in the Women's PGA Championship golf tournament at Congressional Country Club, Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)
            
              Nelly Korda hits on the 15th hole during the first round in the Women's PGA Championship golf tournament at Congressional Country Club, Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)
            
              In Gee Chun, of South Korea, hits on the ninth fairway during the first round in the Women's PGA Championship golf tournament at Congressional Country Club, Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
            
              In Gee Chun, of South Korea, holds her ball after finishing her round on the ninth hole during the first round in the Women's PGA Championship golf tournament at Congressional Country Club, Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — In Gee Chun is alone atop the Women’s PGA Championship following a sensational start.

In fact, no player has ever been further ahead after 18 holes at a women’s major.

Chun breezed to an 8-under 64 on Thursday to take a five-stroke advantage after the first round at Congressional. While most of the field slogged through the day on the wet Blue Course, Chun birdied seven of eight holes during one stretch. She was seven shots ahead when she finished her round and ended up tying a record for the largest 18-hole lead at a major.

Mickey Wright led this tournament by five after the first round in 1961.

“I don’t know what golf course In Gee is playing,” defending champion Nelly Korda said after finishing her round of 71.

Chun was playing the same course as everyone else — one that went through a full restoration last year. There was heavy rain in the area overnight and more precipitation during play Thursday morning. That softened the course but also made Congressional’s length — 6,809 yards for this first round — more of a factor.

No big deal for Chun, a two-time major winner.

“The course, after a lot of rain, feels longer,” the 27-year-old South Korean said. “At the same time, greens were softer. So I think it was just a balance.”

Although there was plenty of golf left to play, Chun’s big lead certainly turned heads.

“I can’t stop staring at the leaderboard,” Justin Thomas tweeted. “Leading by 7 halfway thru day 1!!!!”

Pornanong Phatlum and Hye-Jin Choi shot bogey-free rounds of 69 to cut Chun’s lead to five, but that was still a big enough advantage to tie Wright’s mark. The 1961 tournament was one of a record four victories by Wright at this event. Chun is trying for her first.

Chun did set a major championship record — for men or women — when she won the Evian Championship in 2016 at 21 under. She also won the U.S. Women’s Open the previous year.

Paula Reto and Jennifer Chang were at 2 under. Korda and playing partner Brooke Henderson were part of a nine-player group at 1 under. One example of how challenging the course was: Korda hit driver, hybrid and 7-wood while making par on the 587-yard ninth hole.

“That’s the longest par 5 I’ve ever played,” she said. “I was happy to play the front nine even.”

Chun, who started on the back nine, birdied Nos. 15, 16, 17 and 18. After a bogey on No. 1, she rebounded with three more birdies in a row.

Chun hit all 14 fairways and said she passed the time by discussing non-golf topics with caddie Dean Herden.

“We talk about the kiwis because I love to eat kiwis on the course,” she said. “It’s really tough to find a good kiwi from the supermarket. Luckily, we have a good Korean supermarket near here, so I got a good gold kiwi from there.”

If Chun keeps playing like this, she might find it easy to relax on the course, but she’ll have a talented group of challengers chasing her. Jennifer Kupcho, who won her first major at the Chevron Championship earlier this year, was 1 under. Phatlum’s impressive round included an ace on the 199-yard second.

Inbee Park, Lydia Ko and world No. 1 Jin Young Ko all shot 72, one stoke better than U.S. Women’s Open champ Minjee Lee.

In fact, if not for Chun, a lot of players could feel pretty close to the lead.

“I feel like I played really well. The course is really hard,” Kupcho said. “I don’t really know how In Gee is 8 under right now. That’s definitely an outlier.”

NOTES: Emma Talley (78) finished while putting with a wedge after her putter was damaged during the round. … Lizette Salas and Cristie Kerr both shot 80.

___

Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister

___

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, drives to the basket toward Portland Trail Bl...
Associated Press

Bucks beat Trail Blazers 127-108 for 8th straight win

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Brook Lopez scored 27 points and the Milwaukee Bucks stretched their winning streak to eight games with a 127-108 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 13 rebounds as the Bucks led the whole way, pushing their advantage to 26 in the second […]
1 day ago
Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole (3) passes the ball past Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jal...
Associated Press

Thompson scores 42 points with 12 3s, Warriors beat Thunder

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — With star teammate Stephen Curry sidelined, Klay Thompson kept shooting and took care of the offensive load the Golden State Warriors were missing without their reigning NBA Finals MVP. Thompson scored 42 points with a season-high 12 3-pointers, Jordan Poole added 21 points and career-best 12 assists starting in Curry’s place, […]
1 day ago
Donna Kelce greets her sons, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, left, and Kansas City Chiefs t...
Associated Press

Donna Kelce brings cookies for sons at Super Bowl opener

PHOENIX (AP) — Donna Kelce brought cookies to Super Bowl opening night. The mother of All-Pros Travis and Jason Kelce surprised her sons during an interview with NFL Network’s Michael Irvin with two batches of cookies — one for each. “It’s just been amazing that they’ve both been able to get to this point in […]
1 day ago
Arizona Coyotes defenseman J.J. Moser (90) and Minnesota Wild center Sam Steel collide in the secon...
Associated Press

Chrychrun scores twice as Coyotes beat Wild 3-2

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Jakob Chychrun had two goals, Jack McBain scored the tie-breaking goal on a breakaway with seven minutes remaining and the Arizona Coyotes beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Monday night. McBain put a back-hander past Marc-Andre Fleury moments after the Coyotes killed off an abbreviated 55-second power play. Karel Vejmelka had […]
1 day ago
Dallas Mavericks Josh Green (8) goes to the basket as Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, left, defe...
Associated Press

Green, Hardy help Mavs surprise Jazz 124-111 without Doncic

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kyrie Irving hadn’t arrived yet and Luka Doncic was out, so it was time for the Dallas youngsters to shine. Josh Green and Jaden Hardy each scored career highs of 29 points and the short-handed Mavericks stunned the Utah Jazz 124-111 on Monday night after completing a trade for Irving. […]
1 day ago
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, right, and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hu...
Associated Press

Mahomes, Hurts aware of significance of this Super Bowl duel

PHOENIX (AP) — Philadelphia Eagles coach Nick Sirianni is thrilled young aspiring football players all over the world will get to watch two Black quarterbacks face each other for the first time in the Super Bowl. He’s also pleased they get to watch two really, really good quarterbacks. “I’m really excited for both quarterbacks, what […]
1 day ago
In Gee Chun races to record-tying 5-shot lead at Women’s PGA