Date: April 14, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Lee shines, Oh finds LPGA niche

Minjee Lee has charged from the blocks in Hawaii to lead the LPGA’s Lotte Championship after round one.

And for the first time in a long time, an “old” mate has joined her on the leaderboard.

Melbourne’s Su Oh, a long-time friend and rival of Lee, made the most of a rare start on the LPGA Tour in firing a one-under-par round of 71, to trail the Perth golfer and Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn by just three shots.

The news was mixed for other members of the Australian contingent; Sarah-Jane Smith sits T47 after an opening 73, Katherine Kirk is T64 after her 74 and Sarah Kemp will need a birdie or two tomorrow after a 75.

World No.17 Lee started hot on at Ko Olina, Oahu, with four birdies in her opening seven holes after starting on the back nine.

Bogeys on the 13th and later at the seventh slowed the progress, but the Perth prodigy closed well with a birdie on the ninth to square the ledger with the in-form Jutanugarn.

Oh, whose status permits only limited starts on the big tour, began her round with a birdie on the 10th.

The Golf Australia rookie pro then mixed a bogey on the 12th with a birdie on the 15th to go out in 35, then back-to-back birdies on the fourth and fifth holes had her prominent until a double-bogey on the eighth took her out of a tie for third.

World No.1 Lydia Ko was in early trouble at two over, but fought back well to finish with a 71.