Australian teen Lee holds joint lead at HSBC Women's Champions


Singapore (AFP)

Australian teenager Minjee Lee and Taiwan’s Candie Kung shot five-under-par 67s to share the HSBC Women's Champions lead at the top of a tight first-round leaderboard on Thursday.

Defending champion Park In-Bee was amoung four players one stroke back and world number one Lydia Ko was four off the pace in tied 27th after a hot, windswept day at the par-72 Serapong course on Sentosa island.

Kung shot to the top of the leaderboard with five bogeys and an eagle in the 12th. Two bogeys on the 13th and 15th failed to dislodge the world number 41 from the tournament lead.

Later Lee, 19, who is seeking her second career victory, joined the 34-year-old Taiwanese at the top with four birdies and an eagle.

"The wind was a little calm back then (on the 10th hole)," said Kung, who started on the back nine. "I was able to get up there in two and made my putt from about six feet.

"I love wind. Windy is good. It makes it tough for everybody. Brings everybody into the game. You have to hit good shots out there and make your putts."

The wind also gave Lee’s game a lift, highlighted by an eagle on the par-five 12th.

"I hit my five-wood into the green, and it was a little into the wind, so I think I had like 200 meters (yards) in," said the Aussie.

"Just hit the bottom tier and stayed there, so I was putting over the tier. It was about 30 feet and I made it. It was a nice eagle there."

- Cold comfort -

Park, the world number two, hit five birdies but also a bogey on the par-three 17th -- after not carding any bogeys at all in last year's run to the title.

"It’s gonna come at some point," the 27-year-old told AFP. "It’s actually easy to get it over with today and just play without the pressure for next few days. It’s okay, it just happens for a reason."

She added: "Everything else was pretty steady today. I hit the ball good and putted really good out there today.

"Looking really forward to the next three days. I really feel comfortable on this golf course. I had a really good round today and it gives me a lot of confidence as well."

Ko, who is recovering from a cold, said she had a few adjustments to make as she seeks her first win in the tournament.

"My club selection wasn't that great today," said the 18-year-old New Zealander.

"So I've just got to get a hang of the wind and with how breezy it is sometimes and with the elevation when you're out there, it feels more or less and then it's a little different when it's down there.

"I've just got to get used to it, be confident in the club that I've chosen and if I've got a good look for birdie, put a good stroke on it."