South Korean player Ilhee Lee is the first round leader in the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at Royal Melbourne after a string of birdies on the back nine.
Lee, 26, fired a flawless round of five-under-par 68. She went out in one-under-par 34 after a lone birdie on the 6th, before picking up shots on the 10th, 11th, 13th and 15th holes to overtake Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn.
The Korean, ranked 59th in the world, plays on the LPGA Tour, has one LPGA title to her name, the Bahamas event back in 2013. She carded a five-under 68 in perfect scoring conditions on the composite course.
“I focused on every shot today because I didn’t have a bogey today. I had a little bit of a cold yesterday morning so I had no expectations for today and this week.” Lee said after her round.
It was a late decision to return to Royal Melbourne for Lee,
“I was not sure about coming here until last minute because I know this golf course is really tough. But I decided to come at the last minute. I know this golf course is tough so I told my caddie ‘I want to be middle of the green, I don’t care where the flag is.’ I think that’s very, very important to play this golf course so now I know how to play this golf course better than last time I was here.”
Jutanugarn, 19, opened with a four-under par 69 to take second place in the clubhouse.
Rolex World No.1 Lydia Ko, posted a three-under-par and shares third place with Canadian Alena Sharp and South Korean Min Seo Kwak, Six players sit a further shot back and tied for sixth, including England’s pair of Melissa Reid and Charley Hull, France’s Gwladys Nocera and South Korean Ha Na Jang. 11 players are at one-under including Rebecca Artis and Katherine Kirk, who are the leading Australians and former Women’s Australian Open champion Jessica Korda.
Five time champion, Karrie Webb started with an even par round of 72. She was relatively happy with the result, “It had firmed up a little bit today, even right from the start when we played this morning, they’re getting a little bit firmer each and every day and obviously as the weather warms up, it’s going to bake it out pretty good. I hung in there. It wasn’t the prettiest even par, a little up and down, but made a couple of birdies coming in to get back to even.”