Minjee Lee takes lead over top-ranked Jin Young Ko at LPGA Palos Verdes Championship

Minjee Lee shot an eight-under 63 to take a one-stroke lead over top-ranked Jin Young Ko halfway through the first round of the Palos Verdes Championship. 

Coming off a third-place tie Sunday in the LA Open at Whilshire Country Club, the Australian had a bogey-free round at hilly Palos Verdes Estates in the first-year event that wraps up the LPGA Tour’s west coast swing.

“I took Monday off. Didn’t even come to the course,” Lee said.

“Tuesday, I played nine holes and then I saw the other nine in the pro-am.

“I think it’s so hilly out here that you want to keep your legs fresh.”

The Australian closed with a five-under 31 on the front nine.

“I think it’s just the way like the holes are set up,” Lee said.

“There are a lot of birdie opportunities starting on the front nine.

“Even, like, the first hole and the second and third, they’re all wedges in. I just think there are a lot of opportunities in a row that you can kind of capitalise on.”

Lee won the Evian Championship last season for her first major title and sixth LPGA Tour victory.

Ko (right) said she was ‘starting again’ after stumbling to a tie for 21st at the LA Open.(Getty Images: Harry How)

Ko had six straight birdies, starting on the second hole on her final nine.

She stumbled to a tie for 21st last week after sharing the lead with winner Nasa Hataoka late in the third round at the difficult Whilshire Country Club in Los Angeles.

“Before starting today, I just reminded [myself] that golf is golf,” Ko said.

“Don’t think about last week. Starting again. New routine.”

Charley Hull, Moriya Jutanugarn and Jennifer Chang shot 65, and Albane Valenzuela had a 66.

Anna Davis — the Augusta National Women’s Amateur winner — opened with a 71 in her first LPGA Tour start.

The 16-year-old from San Diego received a sponsor’s exemption.

“I think it was pretty much like every other tournament I would say,” Davis said.

“There weren’t, like, as many people, but I’m expecting the next few days to see some more people out here. I wasn’t super nervous or anything.”



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