South Korean rookie Mirim Lee fired an eight-under-par 64 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead over the US’ Morgan Pressel after the first round of the LPGA Founders Cup.
Both chased Annika Sorenstam’s LPGA record-low round of 59 before coming up short of that magical mark at the Wildfire Golf Club.
Lee began on the back nine and fired six birdies, then added another at the first to stand seven-under. She took her lone bogey at the par-5 second before responding with birdies at the third and seventh holes to grab the lead.
“Everything was good,” Lee said. “Good day.”
It was only the third LPGA event and first in the US for Lee, who shared 33rd in January at the Bahamas and 25th at the Women’s Australian Open last month.
Pressel also began on the back nine and she started with four birdies in a row, added an eagle at the par-five 15th and birdied the par-three 17th for a 29 after nine holes.
When she made back-to-back birdies after the turn to reach nine-under, a buzz began over 59. However, Pressel made bogeys at the third and fourth holes, and parred her way in from there to settle for second behind Lee.
Pressel’s tee shot at the third was unplayable, landing in a bush, and she missed the green with her third shot.
“I hit a very poor tee shot and ended up kind of on the side of this little bush, and I could have hit it left-handed and there were a couple of burrowing animal holes around,” Pressel said.
“I don’t know if I was necessarily thinking 59, but I probably just got a little bit excited, because I had never been that many under par in that short of a span of time,” Pressel added. “I just got a little bit quick and came back to Earth.”
World No. 1 Inbee Park of South Korea, defending champion and third-ranked Stacy Lewis, Australian star Karrie Webb and US star Michelle Wie were in a pack sharing third on 66.
Also two adrift were Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg, the US’ Gerina Piller and South Korea’s Ji Eun-hee.
Taiwan’s Candie Kung shot a two-under-par 70, while Yani Tseng carded a one-under 71.