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Late stumbles costly for Kirk in Arizona

KATHERINE Kirk dropped two shots late in her round to slip down a congested leaderboard at the LPGA's Founders Cup in Arizona.

TWO late bogeys have proved costly for Katherine Kirk who sits five shots off the pace on a congested leaderboard after the opening round of the LPGA event in Arizona.

Kirk got off to a blistering start with three straight birdies to open her account and made a fourth in five holes when she picked up another at the par-5 5th.

Making all pars to the turn the former Canadian Open champion then made another birdie at the 11th and at 5-under was well in the mix with seven holes to play.

But Kirk, who has been in a form slump in recent years, stumbled on the way to the clubhouse with a clumsy bogey at the par-5 15th and another at the closing hole.

While a disappointing way to finish, her game is showing positive signs early in the 2017 season where she also made a hot start at the Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide.

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Kirk shares top Australian honours with Minjee Lee and Sarah Jane Smith after an opening day which saw plenty of low scoring.

The Australian trio are at T46 with Karrie Webb’s opening 2-under 70 leaving her T69 and Su Oh outside the top 100 after an even par 72.

At the business end of the leaderboard five players share top spot at 8-under including former World Number One Stacy Lewis and current top 10 ranked players Ariya Jutanugarn and two time major winner In Gee Chun.

World Number Two Jutanugarn was the only one of the leaders to fire a bogey free round, her six birdies and an eagle built around an impressive display of ball striking.

Among the five players who sit one off the pace is the rejuvenated Michelle Wie whose 7-under 65 could easily have been better.

The 2014 US Women’s Open champion started at the 10th and was 3-under through her first five holes.

However, she dropped two shots before making the turn and looked to have lost momentum before storming home on the second nine.

Like Kirk she birdied each of the first three holes then ignited her round with an eagle at the par-5 5th.

A final birdie of the day at the 8th got her within one of the lead and pleased with where she sits.

“I felt good out there today,” said Wie, who has been plagued by injuries in recent years.

“I had such a great time with my playing partners. The greens were just rolling pure; fun to play.”

Another who is at 7-under is the evergreen Juli Inkster who was bogey free in her opening round.

The 56-year-old continues to defy her age in competing with much younger players and came into this week off a win on the Legends Tour two weeks ago.

“Shoot yeah,” she said when asked if that victory gave her any extra confidence in a much more competitive field.

“Every win helps. I played really well back there. I shot 4-under and 8-under. It's good.”

There are 31 players at 5-under or better at the Wildfire Golf Club and a total of 103 shot better than even par.

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About The Author : Rod Morri

Rod is an award-winning golf journalist with more than 20 years experience and has covered everything from major tournaments to junior golf at the local level. Rod began his life in the media as a daily news reporter for News Limited in Sydney.

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