Danielle Ammaccapane also is tied for third place with the South Korean.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- Mi Hyun Kim's decision to change clubs didn't come without worry. It also didn't come without a sense of satisfaction.
The 25-year-old South Korean walked Squaw Creek Country Club tentatively Friday in the first round of the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic.
When it was over, though, she could smile. She could feel relief. She had put herself in contention, joining Danielle Ammaccapane at 7-under-par 65, to trail leaders Beth Bader and Kelly Robbins by one stroke.
"My score was a surprise for me," Kim said. "I changed clubs -- new irons, new fairway woods, new driver -- but I wasn't hitting solid."
Making the switch
Kim, who finished eighth and tied for third here the past two years, previously played with Callaway clubs, but instead decided to try PING this week.
"Just maybe because it feels better. It gives me a little more yardage," said Kim, who spoke English with the help of her caddie, Chris Birdseye.
What was impressive about Kim's score was how soon she adjusted to the clubs, having changed Wednesday.
Kim also changed putters, from a Never Compromise to an Odyssey, but she just missed taking advantage of several putts that may have bumped her into the lead.
"I could have scored a couple of shots lower," Kim said. "I had some putts lip out, like on one, three and four. Pretty much every hole before seven, I had a putt lip out."
Kim has played well this season, recording back-to-back second places -- June 12-15 in the Evian Masters and June 20-23 in the Wegmans Rochester LPGA. She took a five-shot lead into the final round at Rochester before falling back.
"At Rochester, I had feelings of confidence on Saturday, but I couldn't sleep Saturday night. I don't know why," she said.
"My Achilles began to hurt on Sunday. I'm beginning to relax again now."
Ammaccapane played a bogey-free round with seven birdies to also move one behind the leaders. She sank a 35-foot birdie putt on her final hole to get to 7-under.
"It's confidence," she said. "I'm hitting the ball [well] and I have the putter going right now, and that's something you want to feed on."
Ammaccapane, a Phoenix resident, made news last week by recording a career-low round of 62 in the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic, where she tied for seventh.
One week later, she's in contention again.
"When the day started, I didn't think I'd shoot this low," she said. "After the delay, it got better."
When heavy rains hit Squaw Creek, forcing a two-hour delay, Ammaccapane, 36, was on the 486-yard par-5 eighth hole. The way she finished the hole after the delay set the tone for the rest of her day.
"I almost three-putted," she said of the eighth green. "If I make bogey there, that probably sets the precedent for the rest of the day. But I made the [par] putt, birdied nine and cruised from there."