AAP Golf

Minjee Lee heads Aussie quartet in Korea

By AAP Newswire

Current world No.7 Minjee Lee has spearheaded Australia's challenge at the LPGA's KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea.

Lee ended Thursday's opening round at the Sky 72 Ocean course in Incheon three strokes off the pace set by fast-improving Japanese No.1 Nasa Hataoka.

The 22-year-old from Perth was in a tie for fourth after recording six birdies in her four-under 68 - a double bogey on 16 was her only blemish.

Hataoka holds a two stroke lead after firing a seven-under 65 despite chilly, windy conditions.

She had eight birdies through 16 holes but then dropped a shot at 17.

After being ranked No. 160 just a year ago, Hataoka has rocketed to No.14 in the LPGA rankings.

She won her first LPGA title earlier this year at the NW Arkansas Championship in only her second season on the tour, and is aiming to represent Japan in the Tokyo Olympics.

American Danielle Kang and Charley Hull (England) were in a tie for second, a stroke clear of Lee.

Lee's teammates at the International Crown tournament in Incheon, which ended on Sunday, struggled to varying degrees.

Su Oh was in a share of 21st after an even par 72 while Katherine Kirk and Sarah Jane Smith, who bogeyed four of the first six holes, need to improvement significantly after battling to post 76 and 78 respectively.