Fifteen-year LPGA veteran Candie Kung and second-year member Minjee Lee hold the first round lead at the HSBC Women’s Champions after rounds of 5-under 67. They lead a group of four players that includes world No. 2 and defending champ Inbee Park, two-time major champion Suzann Pettersen and LPGA winners Lee-Anne Pace and Mika Miyazato by one shot.
Kung, a four-time LPGA Tour winner, went out in the first group on the back nine had five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on the par 5 12th hole. Lee put up one of the better scores in the later groups as wind picked up and posted four birdies, one bogey and an eagle on No. 12 as well.
The 19-year old from Australia said the conditions were breezy throughout her entire round but got stronger toward the end.
“I think it was pretty much windy when I hit my first shot,” said Lee. “So it didn’t change too much. Just a little bit stronger towards the end of the day.”
Lee said just two weeks ago at the Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide, she started working on a lower ball flight which seemed to help in the wind.
“Actually at Aussie Open, my coach was there and we tried to lower my ball flight a little bit,” said Lee. “So we were just working on some swing changes there. I think I’m getting the hang of it. It’s been better. We’ve been working on my putting a little bit more with my caddie and everyone. So it’s getting more steadier.”
Kung, whose last victory was at the 2008 HanaBank-KOLON Championship, said she welcomes the wind.
“I love wind. Windy is good. It makes it tough for everybody,” said Kung. “Brings everybody into the game. You have to hit good shot out there and make your putts….The eagle, I got a good bounce there. Bounced it up to about six feet from the hole and I made the putt. The wind was calm back then, four hours ago, on that hole. So it was a lot easier. Otherwise that hole would be into the wind.”
Inbee Park tied her low round of the year so far with a 4-under 68 and made two long birdie putts on the back nine on Nos. 13 and 16 and added her fifth birdie of the day on the last to get within one shot of the lead.
“I think I’m still a little bit rusty from taking so much break in the off-season,” said Park. “But obviously today’s round is the best round yet of the season. I hit the ball best out of all the rounds that I’ve played all year, and obviously I putted best out of all the rounds I played this year.”
The defending champion said at this point any solid round is a step in the right direction with building confidence in her game.
“Hopefully that’s a really good sign,” said Park. “I just want to keep building my confidence up for the next three days. It will be good if I can hold the trophy at the end of the tournament, but if not, what matters to me is just building up the confidence.”