Date: October 20, 2016
Author: Martin Blake

Red-hot Minjee takes lead in China

Australia’s Minjee Lee roared into the lead at the Blue Bay LPGA event in China today with a sizzling first-round 65 that included a closing stretch of three consecutive birdies.

Lee, the 20-year-old wunderkind from Royal Fremantle who has already won two LPGA Tour tournaments in just two years on the circuit, made eight birdies and just one bogey to lead the tournament by two shots at seven-under par.

She birdied three of the first five holes to get her momentum, then rattled home picking up shots at four of the last five.

Germany’s Sandra Gal is the next best at five-under par.

The Blue Bay is a $US2.1 million event held at the Jian Lake Blue Bay course.

Lee, the world No. 17, is already a respectable 11th on the Race to CME Globe points standings nearing the end of the LPGA season, and is projected to rise to sixth if she wins this week in China.

With four tournaments remaining, the players are positioning themselves for the top 72 who will contest the tour championship in Florida next month.

Australia is likely to have four players in that event – Lee, Su Oh, Karrie Webb and Sarah Jane Smith.

Meanwhile Aaron Baddeley at five-under 67 is the best-placed Australian after the first round of the CIMB Classic on the PGA Tour in Kuala Lumpur.

Baddeley, who is returning soon to play the Emirates Australian Open at Royal Sydney, is three shots from the lead held by several players including defending champion Justin Thomas of the United States.

World No. 6 Adam Scott began with a two-under 70.