Lee holds early advantage in Australia

Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) – Ilhee Lee fired a first-round, 5-
under 68 on Thursday and that was good enough to give here a 1-shot lead over
rookie Ariya Jutanugarn at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

Lee has one career victory on the LPGA Tour at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA
Classic back in 2013. Jutanugarn is off to a great start in her rookie season
with an 11th place finish at the season-opening Coates Golf Championship and a
tie for second at the Pure Silk-Bahams LPGA Classic two weeks ago.

Jutanugarn carded a 4-under 69 on the Composite Course at Royal Melbourne Golf
Club and she sits alone in second heading into day two.

Seventeen-year-old and world No. 1 Lydia Ko, who knows something about rookie
success following her huge year last season, is tied for third after shooting
a 3-under 70. Joining Ko there is Alena Sharp and Min Seo Kwak.

Karrie Webb, who won here on her home soil last season, finished the first
round with an even-par 73 and she is tied for 23rd.

On a day that did not yield many low scores, with just 22 players finishing
the first round under par, Lee started off somewhat slow before turning it on

Lee began with five straight pars from No. 1 and then rolled in her first gain
of the week at the par-4 sixth. Lee then made three more pars from seven to
finish her front nine at 1-under.

After making the turn, Lee caught fire. She drained four birdies in a six-hole
stretch from No. 10, with pars coming on 12 and 14. Following her fifth birdie
on No. 15, Lee coasted to the finish with another trio of pars from 16 to grab
the outright lead at the end of round one.

“I focused on every shot because I didn’t have a bogey today,” said Lee. “I
had a little bit of a cold yesterday morning so I had no expectations for
today and this week … My second shots hitting from the fairway to the green
worked good today, so that’s why I had no problem to make pars today.”

Jutanugarn, starting on the back nine, got off to a fast start before tapering
off later in her round. Over her first five holes, Jutanugarn poured in four
birdies on 10, 12, 13 and 14 to go along with a bogey on the par-4 11th.

Following a trio of pars from 15, Jutanugarn made the turn in style with a
birdie on 18.

Jutanugarn made three more pars from No. 1 before tripping to her second bogey
on four. She got that shot back right away, however, with a birdie on the
par-3 fifth.

A pair of pars on six and seven preceded Jutanugarn’s seventh birdie on No. 8,
which got her to minus-5, but her third bogey at the last dropped the rookie
back one to finish her first round.

“It was really nice today,” Jutanugarn said. “My tee shots were good and my
iron shots really helped me a lot. But I missed some fairways because the
course is really challenging and I couldn’t hit all drivers today.”

Ko, like Lee, rolled in five straight pars from No. 1 to start her round
before making a birdie on six. After making the turn at minus-1, Ko made her
second gain on No. 10. Ko’s lone bogey on 13 was short-lived as she made eagle
at the par-5 14th, getting her to minus-3. Ko finished with four straight pars
from 15 to end there.

Kwak made five birdies and two bogeys in her round, while Sharp was very up
and down all day as she made eight total birdies, but tripped to five bogeys.

NOTES: Lee registered five top-10 finishes last season, including a tie for
second at the Mizuno Classic … Lee has tied for 46th and 47th at the first
two events this season … Jutanugarn earned her LPGA card for this season
when she tied for third at the 2014 LPGA Qualifying Tournament … Ko is
seeking her third top-10 finish in three events to start the 2015 campaign …
Ko won three times in her rookie year in 2014 and won the season-long Race to
the CME Globe … This is the fourth installment of the Australian Open on the
LPGA Tour, with the first one played in 2012.