Sei Young Kim on top after first round at T-Mobile Match Play

South Korea’s Sei Young Kim made five birdies on the front nine on Wednesday and finished with the lead after the opening round of the T-Mobile Match Play in Las Vegas.

Kim carded a 6-under-par 66 at Shadow Creek Golf Course, leaving her one stroke ahead of Rose Zhang and Danielle Kang.

Australia’s Minjee Lee, Japan’s Yuka Saso and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist are tied for fourth at 3 under par. Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Germany’s Caroline Masson share seventh at 2 under, and seven players, including New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, are tied for ninth at 1 under.

Wednesday and Thursday will comprise stroke play with a cut to the top 65 players and ties after 36 holes. The field will be cut to the top eight following stroke play on Friday. Saturday morning will begin the single-elimination match-play bracket, with the semifinals taking place Saturday afternoon and the championship match contested on Sunday.

Kim capped her early birdie binge with three in a row from No. 6 to No. 8. On the back nine, she had two birdies and her lone bogey of the day at the par-4 14th hole.

“The front nine I didn’t expect I play that well,” she said. “Pretty solid round today. I’m very, yeah, happy with that.”

Kim, a 31-year-old veteran, owns 12 career LPGA victories, but none since 2020.

Zhang was 1 under par through 14 holes, then closed her round with four consecutive birdies on the front nine.

“I felt like I was just really patient out there,” the 20-year-old Californian said. “I had a really good game plan coming in it and when you’re attacking pins. You kind of can’t really go at pins on this golf course, so making sure that I have my targets and iron play was pretty exceptional. So I really gave myself as many opportunities out there.”

Kang, playing on her home course, had a round similar to Zhang’s. She was 1 under par after the back nine, then added four birdies in a bogey-free front nine.

“It challenges you a lot,” Kang said of Shadow Creek. “I’ve heard that people have complained about the greens are too firm and they wanted it softer and they commented about the format and all that, but all MGM Resorts wants to do is keep you happy and make us happy and do whatever we want.

“At the end of the week, whoever plays well is going to be happy with whatever condition and whatever has been thrown at us.”

Defending champion Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand is tied for 40th at 2 over par.

–Field Level Media