Aussie Kemp shoots low, three off pace in Portland


Sarah Kemp has made an impressive start to the LPGA's Portland Classic, firing an opening-round six-under 66 in difficult conditions in Oregon.

The 37-year-old Sydneysider is in a group of five tied for sixth, trailing Frenchwoman Perrine Delacour by three shots at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

Kemp's only blemish on a wet Thursday came on the par-4 18th after earlier draining seven birdies.

Delacour, who has just one top-10 finish this season and is searching for her first title in a decade-plus playing the LPGA Tour, birdied six of her first seven holes en route to nine under.

The 29-year-old's bogey-free round beat out a number of players who also went low. Gina Kim (64) is second and fellow American and world No.2 Nelly Korda (65) is tied for third with Sweden's Linn Grant and Germany's Olivia Cowan.

Delacour birdied the par-4 first hole before starting a run of five straight birdies at the par-4 third. After six straight pars, she made a late push with birdies at Nos.14, 15 and 17.

"I didn't know what was my score at some point," Delacour said.

"When you're in that zone, you don't realise your score and you're ... not scared to (do) anything. You go to every pin and you know it's going to be fine."

Kim, who has missed nine cuts in her past 10 starts, had eight birdies without a bogey to post her lowest round in two years on tour.

"It's been tough this whole season and I kept grinding through it," she said.

"I kept believing in myself that maybe, you know, one of these days I'm going to be able to catch a good round like this. So it's nice to hit the ground running out here."

Korda, 25, began her round on the back nine and made four birdies on each side, with a bogey on the 18th sullying her card.

"I think the golf course is just in general playing a little softer than it was last year," said Korda, who hasn't won on tour since November.

"I just knew with the amount of rain we were getting throughout the day that I could just be a little bit more aggressive."

Defending champion Andrea Lee opened with a six-under 66, the same score as Thailand's Pavarisa Yoktuan, Denmark's Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Megan Khang, who won last week's CPKC Women's Open.

Two-time champion Brooke Henderson had a 69 and top-ranked Lilia Vu opened with a 71.

Grace Kim and Hannah Green both shot 70s, while fellow Australians Karis Davidson (73), Steph Kyriacou (74) and Su Oh (75) are in danger of missing the cut on Friday.

With Reuters.