CARLSBAD, Calif. – Mirim Lee birdied all four par-5 holes and finished with a bogey-free 7-under 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Kia Classic.
Lee took the outright lead with an 8-foot putt on the par-5 fifth – her 14th hole in her afternoon round at Aviara – and hit a wedge to 3 feet to set up her final birdie on the par-5 eighth. The 24-year-old South Korean player won LPGA Tour events last year in Michigan and China.
Yani Tseng, winless in 70 starts since her victory in the 2012 event at nearby La Costa, had a 66.
Tseng finished with a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th after hitting a 150-yard shot from near a fairway bunker with the ball well above her feet. The Taiwanese player birdied Nos. 7-9, made a 20-foot eagle putt from the fringe on the par-5 10th, dropped a stroke on the par-4 14th when she missed a 3-foot par putt and rebounded with a 3-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko was two strokes back at 67 along with Karrie Webb, Cristie Kerr and China’s Lin Xiyu. The 17-year-old Ko has 10 straight top-10 finishes and has broken par in her last 25 LPGA Tour rounds and 28 worldwide.
Alena Sharp – the lone Canadian in the field – sits T17 after opening with a 3-under 69.