Minjee Lee takes early lead in Palos Verdes Championship

Apr 28, 2022, 3:12 AM | Updated: 3:14 pm
Minjee Lee, right, reacts after sinking a putt on the 15th green during the first round of the LPGA...

Minjee Lee, right, reacts after sinking a putt on the 15th green during the first round of the LPGA's Palos Verdes Championship golf tournament on Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

              Patty Tavatanakit hits from the 12th fairway during the first round of the LPGA's Palos Verdes Championship golf tournament on Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
            
              Celine Boutier tees off at the 16th tee during the first round of the LPGA's Palos Verdes Championship golf tournament on Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
            
              Minjee Lee, right, reacts after sinking a putt on the 15th green during the first round of the LPGA's Palos Verdes Championship golf tournament on Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

PALOS VERDES ESTATES, Calif. (AP) — Minjee Lee shot an 8-under 63 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead over top-ranked Jin Young Ko halfway through the first round of the Palos Verdes Championship.

Coming off a third-place tie Sunday in the LA Open at Whilshire Country Club, Lee had a bogey-free round at hilly Palos Verdes Estates in the first-year event that wraps up the LPGA Tour’s West Coast swing.

“I took Monday off. Didn’t even come to the course,” Lee said. “Tuesday, I played nine holes and then I saw the other nine in the pro-am. … I think it’s so hilly out here that you want to keep your legs fresh.”

The Australian closed with a 5-under 31 on the front nine.

“I think it’s just the way like the holes are set up,” Lee said. “There are a lot of birdie opportunities starting the front nine. Even like the first hole and the second and third, they’re all wedges in. … I just think there are a lot of opportunities in a row that you can kind of capitalize on.”

She won the Evian Championship last season for her first major title and sixth LPGA Tour victory.

Ko had six straight birdies on Nos. 2-7 on her final nine. She stumbled to a tie for 21st last week after sharing the lead with winner Nasa Hataoka late in the third round at difficult Whilshire.

“Before starting today I just remind (myself) that golf is golf,” Ko said. “Don’t think about last week. Starting again, new routine.”

Charley Hull, Moriya Jutanugarn and Jennifer Chang shot 65, and Albane Valenzuela had a 66.

Lexi Thompson played in the afternoon.

Anna Davis, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur winner, opened with a 71 in her first LPGA Tour start. The 16-year-old is from Spring Valley east of San Diego. She received a sponsor exemption.

“I think it was pretty much like every other tournament I would say,” Davis said. “There weren’t like as many people, but I’m expecting the next few days to see some more people out here. … I wasn’t super nervous or anything.”

Hataoka is taking the week off.

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Minjee Lee takes early lead in Palos Verdes Championship