Jeongeun Lee6 hit every fairway and green in regulation while making eight birdies to claim a one-shot lead in the LPGA Tour’s season-finale in Florida, while Nelly Korda, Georgia Hall and Leona Maguire all made excellent starts
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 18/11/21 10:59pm
Jeongeun Lee6 opened with an eight-under 64 to lead the CME Group Tour Championship as Georgia Hall and Leona Maguire enjoyed positive starts in Florida.
Lee6 clearly found the Gold Course at Tiburon Golf Club to her liking as she hit every fairway and every green in regulation, making birdies at four of the last five holes to claim the outright lead after day one.
Celine Boutier was also bogey-free in her 65 as she shared second with Mina Harigae, Jennifer Kupcho and Sei Young Kim, while Boutier’s Solheim Cup team-mates Hall and Maguire carded solid 67s.
CME Group Tour Championship leaderboard
Second round pairings, tee times
Lee6 is making only her second appearance in the LPGA Tour’s season-finale, and she was understandably delighted to put herself in position for her first win of 2021 after a year battling issues with her swing.
“I had a good time today. My goal was to be free (of) bogeys, so, yeah, I achieved it,” said Lee6. “My feel is getting better, so my goal is to win once this year, but unfortunately just one tournament left. I’m going to try my best.
“I’ve been fixing my swing this year, so all year my swing was not perfect. I’m fixing backswing and downswing. These days my backswing is very comfortable, so I can be very accurate and aggressive.”
Nelly Korda matched Lee6’s tally of eight birdies, but the world No 1 three-putted for bogey twice on the back nine as she returned a 66 which gave her the edge over current Race to CME Globe leader Jin Young Ko, who shot 69.
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“I just struck it really well and I gave myself some good looks inside 10 feet,” said Korda. “I had two ‘oopsies’ with two three-putts, but I think I hit a majority of the greens and gave myself some really good looks.
“I think I had just two missed shots where I was a little too aggressive. When I’m aggressive they kind of have a little bit more shape on them. But I think in all, I hit it pretty good and hopefully I can carry it into the next three days.”
Hall was four under at the turn after a pair of birdies and a monster putt for eagle at the sixth, although her bid to emulate Charley Hull’s 2016 victory in Naples stalled a little on the back nine, where she mixed three more birdies with two dropped shots.
“I was happy I was out first because I thought I would avoid the rain,” said Hall, who made light of her early tee time and missed only one fairway and one green. “But the course is in great condition. The greens are probably one of the best that I’ve played in the last four or five years.
“I haven’t got a win this year, but I would say it’s probably been my best season apart from getting a win. I’ve been contending in a couple of majors, which I was very pleased with, and very consistent this year as well and had a very strong kind of middle to back half of the year. So I’d say I’m very happy with the way it’s gone.
“Obviously I would love to have got a win and still have got a chance, but yeah, that’s just my goal for next year.”
Ko’s 69 was matched by namesake Lydia Ko as well as Hull on a great day for scoring, with 50 of the 60 players breaking the par of 72 in the opening round.
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