South Korea’s Mi Hyang Lee, a Monday qualifier whose last LPGA victory came more than five years ago, holds a one-shot lead after the first round of the DIO Implant LA Open on Thursday in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
Lee shot a 6-under-par 65 at Palos Verdes Golf Club, putting her in front Megan Khang and South Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim, who both shot 5 under.
Defending champion Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Lucy Li and Canada’s Maude-Aimee Leblanc are tied for fourth at 4 under.
Nelly Korda, Jessica Korda, Amanda Doherty, China’s Ruoning Yin, England’s Charley Hull and France’s Perrine Delacour share seventh place at 3 under.
Lee earned her two LPGA wins at the 2014 Mizuno Classic and the 2017 Scottish Open. She produced a bogey-free round on Thursday, capped by a birdie at the par-4 18th hole.
The key to her round?
“I had a really good caddie,” Lee said. “I mean, my friend’s dad, so he helped a lot from Monday and today also. So really thanks to him, yeah.”
Kim got to 6 under with six birdies and six pars through 12 holes, but after carding her lone bogey at the par-3 13th hole, she closed with five pars.
“It was my first U.S. tournament of the season, and I’m really satisfied that I put up a good score on the first day,” Kim said. “The golf course here, the (greens are) actually pretty small and I was really happy with how much I didn’t miss the greens today.”
Kim said of being in contention, “It’s been a while since I’ve seen my name on the top of the leaderboard so definitely extra motivation to do well in the remaining days as well.”
Khang began on the back nine and reeled off three consecutive birdies at Nos. 14-16. She added three more birdies and a bogey on the front nine.
Hataoka and Li each had six birdies and two bogeys while Leblanc finished with seven birdies and three bogeys.
Li said, “I just hit it really well and just kept doing that. … It was kind of windy on the back nine, so just like managing that really well, judging the distances very well was really good. I had a couple tap-in birdies, which was nice because the greens are pretty tricky.”
–Field Level Media