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Sizzling Kim off to record start at Tiger's tourney


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POSTED: Friday, July 03, 2009

BETHESDA, Md. » Anthony Kim is regaining a lot of his strength and a little of his swagger. He can only hope his record start yesterday 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 8-under 62, giving him a two-shot lead over tournament host Tiger Woods and two others.

Castle High graduate Dean Wilson shot a 1-under 69 to trail by seven strokes, while Punahou grad Parker McLachlin is back by nine after a 1-over 71.

The 24-year-old Kim 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-5 ninth green slightly perturbed after narrowly missing a 10-foot birdie putt.

Apparently, eight birdies wasn't enough for Kim, who said “;You don't have many opportunities to bust a 61.”;

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 3-wood to 4 feet on the par-3 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.”;

Three dozen players shots in the 60s, including Jim Furyk in the group at 66 and U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover at 69. Nearly half the 120-man field was at par or better.

As a tournament host, Woods took some solace that 3-under 67 was still good enough to be in the top 10. As a player, he saw Kim at 62 before he teed off and realized he had better stay as close as he could.

“;This is the day to pull it off,”; he said, “;because the greens are so soft.”;

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 3 feet. The longest par putt he faced all day was from 4 feet.

He has not finished in the top 10 since his runner-up finish in the season-opening tournament at Kapalua, as he traveled the world while coping with injuries, the latest to his left thumb. He had to regrip the club on his backswing, making him tentative.

But as the strength returned, Kim has been able to set the club properly and swing more explosively through the ball.