Kim, from South Korea, and Burnham have had a low career, while Ji, the 2009 U.S. women’s champion, best fits her career.
Kim, the winner of the U.S. Women’s Open in 2020, only made her first birdie in the seventh hole, and it kicked off a run of five from No. 7-11. She added another birdie on the 16th and scored her round with an eagle on the par-5 18th.
Kirk, from Australia, and Ji each scored eight birdies, and Burnham had seven, all with bogey rounds.
“It was fun,” said Kirk, a three-time LPGA Tour winner. “I started well and it’s the kind of golf course where you just have to hold the pedal. I was able to happily manage it and push in four birdies on each side.”
Kirk is one of three golfers to have played in all 15 editions of the tournament, along with Brittany Lang and favorite hometown Stacy Lewis, the 2014 champion who played collegiately in Arkansas in nearby Fayetteville.
Lewis conceded four shots back to an opening 67.
Lim plays the opportunity for the first time. She had no problem with the almost perfect weather and the scoring conditions.
“Stiff grass and bright greens, I love it,” Lim said.
Burnham have reached number 132 on the CME leaderboard and must finish strong over the past four weeks to retain their LPGA card.
“I just wanted to start well today,” Burnham said. “I just told myself to swing easily and play smart, and we’ll see what happens. Things worked out, and I made a lot of putts. It’s one of my favorite weeks on tour. The track is so beautiful with the little streams through the course and just super nice greens. “
Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, a two-time major winner and two-time winner this year, is among six players three shots from the lead after an opening 66.
Some of the biggest names in the tournament are in a group of 13 golfers at 4 under par, including Lewis, Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson and Minjee lee. Amateur Brooke Matthews, a senior in Arkansas, was also down at 4.