WESTERN Australia’s Minjee Lee has snatched a two shot lead at the LPGA’s Blue Bay tournament courtesy of a brilliant opening round at the Jinan Lake course in China.
Lee made just one bogey against eight birdies to sign for a 7-under 65, two ahead of Germany’s Sandra Gal and big hitting American Jessica Korda.
The 21-year-old got off to a flying start with three birdies in her opening five holes and continued in that vein to make the turn 4-under.
After two pars to start the back nine a dropped shot at the 12th fired her back into action as she reeled off four birdies from the 14th, the last three in succession.
“I'm pretty happy with the way I started today,” Lee said after her round.
“I had eight birdies and one bogey, so pretty good start. Just played my own game today and a lot of my putts dropped.”
MINJEE LEE ROUND ONE HIGHLIGHTS:
With Typhoon Haima effecting the area Lee, like many in the field, only arrived at the course Wednesday and managed just nine holes in practice though said it might have worked to her advantage.
“Maybe it's better,” she laughed when asked about the limited preparation.
“I think it was pretty similar for a lot of the girls out here. I just took it as it is. It's okay.
“I just took it one shot at a time and didn't try to get ahead of myself.”
Already a winner on the Tour this year Lee isn’t getting ahead of herself as she takes aim at a third LPGA title.
“Yeah, just take one shot at a time,” she responded when asked her game plan for the second round.
“Just the same as today. Just play my own game and just do whatever I can to just do whatever is in my control.”
Second placed Gal was another who arrived late, the German Solheim Cup player playing just three holes before the tournament got underway.
“We arrived yesterday afternoon and I took the cart on the golf course and we had played three holes and then chipped and hit some shots on the driving range, which was nice that we could do that,” she said.
“Actually my caddie didn't come in until four this morning. Fortunately he saw the course last year, so he knew about it, and he did a really good job today, not being able to walk the course before.
“I think considering the circumstances, I think we're very lucky that the course is in such great shape and that we all got here safe and the typhoon didn't do too much damage. It's all good.”
Gal’s 5-under 67 included a hole out for eagle at the second which kickstarted her round.
“I think I had 89 yards to the pin and there was a little back stop so I played it to go a little long and come back and I had a perfect line and it just rolled in,” she said.
“It's just a nice start. To hit it close or even go in the hole, it just kind of jump starts your round and kind of gets you in a nice flow, which I then kept up for the rest of the day.”
Only two other Australians have made the trip to Hainan Island this week, Su Oh battling to a round of 2-over 74 to be T51 while Sarah Jane Smith endured a horror run.
The Queenslander has been enjoying one of her best seasons in 2016 but couldn’t get anything to go her way in round one.
She racked up six bogies and two doubles on her way to a 7-over 79 to be near the tail of the field.
PLAYER PROFILE SU OH: