Kuala Lumpur: South Korean Ilhee Lee tied the tournament record en-route to grabbing the first round lead at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on Thursday.
Lee blitzed the East Course layout at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club with a flawless seven-under 64 to lead big-hitting American Brittany Lang by a single shot in the US$2 million tournament.
A group of four players are in a tie for third on five-under 66 including Paula Creamer, European Solheim Cup team mates Beatriz Recari and Jodi Ewart Shadoff as well as South Korea’s Eun-Hee Ji.
Fresh from winning on home soil last week, China’s Shanshan Feng remained in contention, lying a shot back in a bunch led by world number three Suzann Pettersen of Norway while titleholder and world number one Inbee Park was tied for 28th with a 70.
Lee had four birdies on the back nine and another three on the front to take the lead from Lang.
“Everything felt good today, the driver, the 6-iron, the putter … they were all good,” said the 24-year-old. “My goal was 3-under par every day this week, so I feel like I’m going to be okay for the next couple of days,” added Lee, who picked up her first LPGA title at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic in May.
Lang started off on the back nine with four straight birdies but a three-putt bogey on the final hole saw her settle for sole second.
“I played great, didn’t make too many mistakes, hitting the ball fantastically and had a lot of tap-in birdies,” Lang said.
“But I didn’t finish off as strong as I’d like to. It gets pretty hot towards the end, so I need to get some rest and just make sure I’m eating and drinking enough out there.”
Leading first round scores
64 – Ilhee Park (KOR)
65 – Brittany Lang (USA)
66 – Eun-Hee Ji (KOR), Paula Creamer (USA), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG), Beatriz Recari (ESP)
67 – Caroline Masson (GER), Lexi Thompson (USA), Alison Walshe (USA), Shanshan Feng (CHN), Cristie Kerr (USA), IK Kim (KOR), Brittany Lincicome (USA), Suzann Pettersen (NOR)