KPMG Women's PGA Championship - Round One
Credit: PGA of America via Getty Images

In Gee Chun rode a nine-birdie performance Thursday morning to take the lead after the first round at the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

And in the process she added her name to the KPMG Women’s PGA record books.

Even with a bogey on the par-4 1st, Chun fired a tidy 8-under 64 at Congressional Country Club and led by seven when she signed her scorecard.

She finished the day ahead by five shots over Hye-Jin Choi and Pornanong Phatlum. That tied the largest first-round major lead in women’s golf history. Mickey Wright led at this Championship by that margin after 18 holes more than half a century ago.

Her 64 tied the lowest opening round in the history of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. It also set the new record for Congressional’s Blue Course, which went through a full restoration, completed in 2021.

The largest first-round major lead in women’s golf history is five by Mickey Wright at this championship, more than half a century ago.

“I feel so good because I always think when my name is going with something, then I feel very honored, and it makes me keep going to play golf,” said Chun.

“I felt like I made a good focus on the golf course today because I didn't know I made that much birdies. I'm trying to make the focus every tee shot and every chip, putt.”

KPMG Women's PGA Championship - Round One
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 23: In Gee Chun of the Republic of Korea chips onto the first green during the first round for the 2022 KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club on June 23, 2022 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America via Getty Images)
Credit: PGA of America via Getty Images

Heading into the week Chun was second on the LPGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach, according to KPMG Performance Insights. Congressional Country Club was playing soft after rain Wednesday forced the closure of the golf course and two inches more rain fell overnight, and Chun was able to take advantage of her solid shot-making.

“I think golf is all about the process. After I had a couple of not-good weeks before I felt really bad after that, but I’m trying to make good focus on the course for the process not for the result which helps a lot,” said Chun. “I’m trying to enjoy playing golf on the course and more talk with my caddy and I’m happy with the good round today.”

Brooke Henderson, a past KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner and good friend of Chun’s, said Nelly Korda, the defending champion, looked at the leaderboard and asked Henderson, “What course is (Chun) playing?”

“She’s just on fire,” said Henderson, who opened with a 1-under 71 along with Korda. They’re part of a group tied for sixth heading into Friday.

“Sometimes In Gee does that. Sometimes she just plays so well, and nothing bothers her, and it's really cool to see. Hopefully I can be more like her tomorrow and make some more birdies and climb up the leaderboard.”

Getting off to a hot start at major championships has been one of the keys to finding the winner’s circle as well. Thirty-three of the last 35 major champions on the LPGA Tour have opened their winning weeks firing an under-par round.

Over her career, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship has been the major championship where Chun has struggled. She’s notched at least a top-10 result in all the majors on the LPGA Tour schedule other than the KPMG Women’s PGA.

But she’s looking to ride her hot start all the way to the winner’s circle on Sunday and buck some historical trends for her at this particular championship.

She couldn’t have asked for a better start.

“I really want to make result. At the time I have a lot of pressure because of all the results. I think I'm on the right way to reaching my goal,” said Chun. “Today is one of another process, I believe. I want to keep going and see what I can do.”

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