Rookie of the Year Lee Jae-kyung shares first-round lead at KPGA’s KB Financial Liv Championship…fourth straight top-10 showing

Lee Jae-kyung, the 2019 Korean Professional Golf Association (KPGA) Korean Tour Rookie of the Year, is tied for the lead after the first round of the KB Financial Live Championship (total prize money: 700 million won).
Lee shot a 4-under 68 in the first round on Friday at Blackstone Golf Club (Par 72) in Icheon, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea.

Tied for the lead with Kim Min-soo and Lee Tae-hoon (CAN), Lee earned her first victory of the season and her third career victory in two years after winning the 2021 Genesis Championship.

Lee has a history with Blackstone Golf Club.

She shot back-to-back 80s here in 2019 as a rookie and withdrew in 2021 after a 79 in the first round.

Last year, she was so afraid of the course that she didn’t even show up.

Lee, who started the day on the 10th hole, was par through 18 before making her first birdie on the par-5 first.

She followed that up with a birdie on No. 3 (par-3) and a bogey on No. 5 (par-5) with a birdie on No. 6 (par-4) before closing out the day with back-to-back birdies on No. 8 (par-4) and No. 9 (par-4).

“I’ve been playing so well lately that I didn’t capitalize on my early birdie chances, so when I parred nine holes in a row, I waited patiently for my chance,” said Lee, who has three straight top-10 finishes (4th-7th-7th) in his last four tournaments. “I’m very happy with four under par on a difficult course.”

He attributes his recent improvement to improving his short game, which has always been a weakness.

He said that practicing his short game is still his top priority, and even in tournaments, when he arrives at the golf course, the first thing he does is work on his short game rather than his shots.

“If my goal is to get a 100, I get about a 90 in practice. “It’s not easy, but if I can get to 100, I think I’ll have more chances to win,” she said.

Lee Jae-kyung, who missed the cut in the first three events of the season, said she was “lazy and gave up easily”.

Lee, who used to wake up late and leave the house with the excuse of being tired, now wakes up around 6 a.m. and arrives at the golf course at 8 a.m. to start practicing.

“I’ve gotten rid of all other unnecessary things besides golf,” he added.

“I’m not going to get cocky just because I’ve been in the top 10 for three weeks in a row,” Lee said, “I’m going to do my best hole by hole for the next three days without being greedy.”

Kim Min-soo, who is yet to win a tournament, carded an eagle, four birdies, and two bogeys to drop four strokes.

Kim, who has won more than 10 screen golf tournaments and is dubbed the “Screen Golf Emperor,” broke out of a slump that saw him miss the cut in all four of his previous events.

“My putts weren’t good, but today they were so good,” said Kim, who humbled himself by saying, “My goal is to make the cut.”

Lee, who has three wins on the Korean Tour메이저놀이터, including last year’s Hana Bank Invitational, had an eagle, three birdies and a bogey.

Seo Yosub’s driver tee shot. [Courtesy of the KPGA].

Seo, who has five career wins, three of which came last year, finished the first day in a one-stroke tie for fourth place with a 3-under 69, followed by Ham Jeong-woo at 2-under 70.

Long-hitting Chung, who is coming off a win at the GS Caltex Mae Kyung Open, shot a 1-under 71 and is in contention for the title.

Defending champion Ji-ho Yang shot a 2-over 74.

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