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Anthony Kim's 62 leads Tiger Woods by two shots

Defending champion in the AT&T National sets course record at Congressional.

July 03, 2009|Associated Press

Anthony Kim is regaining a lot of his strength and a little of his swagger. He can only hope his record start Thursday at the AT&T National will allow him to get rid of some frustration built up from a year of not winning.

Kim ran off eight birdies over his final 13 holes and set the course record at Congressional with an eight-under-par 62, giving him a two-shot lead over tournament host Tiger Woods and two others at Bethesda, Md.

Kim, 24, has not won since his victory in the AT&T National last year, slowed by an assortment of injuries that caused his game to slip just as he was being anointed the next great American player.

It was the best round of his PGA Tour career, although Kim walked off the par-five ninth green slightly perturbed after narrowly missing a 10-foot birdie putt. Apparently, eight birdies weren't enough.

"You don't have many opportunities to bust a 61," Kim said.

But it was enough to hold off Woods, who missed his tournament last year after having season-ending knee surgery. Woods played in the afternoon with deceptive wind swirling from trees lining the fairways. He missed only two fairways and three greens, and made enough putts for a 64, his lowest round since the 2007 Tour Championship.

"Today was nice to get back inside the ropes and get out there and try to catch AK," Woods said. "He lit it up this morning."

Bryce Molder, who can qualify for the British Open with a strong week at Congressional, hit a three-wood to four feet on the par-three second hole and escaped trouble a few times on the back nine to join a group at 64 that also included D.A. Points.

Former PGA champion Steve Elkington was another shot back on a day of exceptional scoring in relatively soft conditions from overnight rain in the Washington area.

"You can be so aggressive out there," Woods said. "You can fire at a lot of flags. The fairways got wide because it's not going to run out. If you get aggressive and get it going, you can post a number out there."

Kim extended his bogey-free streak at Congressional to 40 holes, dating to the third round a year ago. He missed only one green, coming up just short on the 18th and chipping to about three feet. The longest par putt he faced all day was from four feet.

Three tied after Creamer withdraws

Morgan Pressel, Song-Hee Kim and Laura Diaz made the most of the defending champion's absence at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.

Each shot a seven-under 64 after Paula Creamer withdrew, taking a one-shot lead over Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen after the opening round at Sylvania, Ohio.

Creamer, who shot a personal-best and course-record 60 in last year's first round at Highland Meadows, withdrew because of a thumb injury moments before her morning tee time.

Pressel didn't have a bogey and birdied four holes in a row late in her round. Her 64 matched her best round since joining the tour in 2006.

Kim, who is winless in 56 LPGA Tour events, twice birdied three consecutive holes during her round. Diaz hasn't won in seven years but holed a wedge shot for eagle at the par-four 17th hole to move to the top of the leaderboard.

Wie, who is winless in her career but has three top-10 finishes in her seven starts this season, used her length off the tee to shoot her lowest competitive round since turning pro.

Pettersen aced the 154-yard third hole with a seven-iron.

After an injured left thumb forced Creamer to withdraw from last week's LPGA stop in Pittsford, N.Y., she received a cortisone shot. She was unable to play a practice round but did participate in the pro-am Wednesday. Creamer then came to the course Thursday morning and worked on the driving range before tearfully telling tournament officials she was withdrawing.

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