Australia's new superstar Minjee Lee roared to a share of the lead in the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore today with an opening 67.
The 19-year-old Lee birdied the final hole for a five-under total and a share of first place with Candie Kung of Taipei.
The LPGA Tour event at Sentosa Golf Club is worth $US1.5 million, widely-known as the 'Asian major' and has previously been won by Karrie Webb.
Lee was near-perfect on the day, logging birdies at the first, fourth and 13th holes to go with a seven-metre eagle on the par-five 12th. She had a share of the lead going up the 17th, but blasted her tee shot wide, caught a ricochet off a tree into the greenside trap, and failed to get up-and-down for par. But at the par-five 18th she was through the green for two, then two-putted for birdie to card 67, a great start for the Royal Fremantle member.
"I played steady, pretty solid, hit some good shots and just seized my birdie opportunities, pretty much,'' she said afterward.
Perth's Lee, a two-time Australian amateur champion and former US girls' champion, is ranked No. 16 in the world and won her first LPGA Tournament in her first season on the tour last year. A member of Golf Australia's rookie squad of talented young professionals, she is regarded as the best Australian female talent produced since Webb emerged more than 20 years ago.
The teenager is wearing contact lenses at the opening of the season after learning that her vision was imperfect during an Olympic screening before Christmas. She wears glasses when she is at home, but has noticed a difference on the golf course. "The optometrist said my brain was used to it,'' she said. "But now I can see like really, really clearly.''
Webb, the only other Australian in the field, began with an even-par 72, while world No. 1 Lydia Ko shot 71 in her opening round.