Lee, Pettersen share LPGA lead in Canada


Montreal (AFP)

Former winner Suzann Pettersen and last year's runner-up Lee Mi-Hyang shared the first-round lead on Thursday in the ManuLife LPGA Classic in Cambridge, Canada.

Norway's Pettersen, who hasn't won since lifting the trophy here in 2015, had nine birdies in her eight-under par 64 while South Korea's Lee had six birdies and an eagle to seize her share of the lead.

They were one stroke in front of China's Feng Shanshan, Belgian Laura Gonzalez Escallon and South Korean Kim Hyo-Joo, with Denmark's Emily Pedersen, Canadian Alena Sharp and Britain's Jodi Ewart Shadoff a further stroke back on 66.

Pettersen's familiarity with the Whistle Bear layout paid dividends. She lost her yardage book on her way to Cambridge and she and her new caddy had to start from scratch.

But she said she hit perfect numbers -- and benefitted from perfect scoring conditions in the morning.

"You can fire at pins and get to par fives, which is fun," Pettersen said. "I think it’s the best way to set up a golf course and get low scores. I'm very happy with the opening round I played."

Lee's round was highlighted by an eagle at the par-five third hole.

The South Korean, who lost by one stroke to Germany's Caroline Masson last year after a final round that included a double bogey at the 10th, safely parred that one on Thursday as part of her bogey-free effort.

"I think it’s a good match to my golf," she said of the course. "I think (it's) just a great golf course and great condition. A little softer than last year so getting a longer distance. Greens are good and everything else is good."

Feng is back in action after becoming the tour's 13th different winner this season in her last start -- the Volvik Championship in Michigan two weeks ago.

"I think after I captured the victory at the Volvik Championship I think my condition is pretty good," said Feng, who also eagled the third and had six birdies with one bogey in her seven-under round.

"Everything is not bad," she said. "I mean, my ball striking is as good as usual and my putting is working also."

Sharp, a 12-year tour veteran, is from Hamilton, just 45 minutes from Whistle Bear.

"It's not often that I get my whole family to come out and watch at one time, so it's really nice to have their support," said Sharp, whose career best finish is a fourth-place showing at the 2016 Canadian Women's Open.