Lee - the event's 2015 champion - opened with a bogey-free 4-under 67 on the Kingsmill Resort's River Course featured three front nine birdies and she ended her round in style with a birdie at the par-4 18th.
On a day where 70 of the 144 players in the field broke par, the 21-year-old is well placed to challenge for her fourth LPGA Tour title.
Jessica Korda. Azahara Munoz, In Gee Chun, Jaye Marie Green and Annie Park lead the way after their rounds of 65.
Nasa Hataoka and former World No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn are tied for 6th place just one off the lead, Jutanugarn recovering from an early double bogey with a back nine of 31.
Jutanugarn won the event in 2016 and although she has yet to win in 2018 she appears to be close to winning form.
Karrie Webb - who is playing just her third event of the 2018 LPGA Tour season - opened with a 3-under 68 although after beginning so well with an eagle at the 3rd and a birdie at the 4th, she was unable to capitalise on such a good start to her round.
Webb won this event in her great 2006 season, a year in which she won five times, so the Kingsmill event and venue each have special meaning to the seven-time major champion.
Su Oh is one shot further back after her round of 69, Hannah Green and Sarah Jane Smith opened with 73s, and Katherine Kirk and Rebecca Artis each signed for 74.
Artis, who is in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour, began her round reasonably well before dropping five shots in her last five holes.
GW 2018 PLAYER PROFILE: JESSICA KORDA
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