Mirim Lee leads Founders Cup by 1

The Sports NetworkMarch 20, 2014 

Phoenix,AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Mirim Lee fired an 8-under on Thursday and grabbed a 1-stroke lead after the opening round of the JTBC Founders Cup.

Lee, who is winless on the LPGA Tour, missed the course record at Wildfire Golf Club by one stroke.

Morgan Pressel, who was 9-under par through 11 holes, dropped a pair of shots coming in and finished with a 7-under 65. She is alone in second place.

Inbee Park and defending champion Stacy Lewis, the first and third ranked players in the world, are tied for third place at minus-6. They were joined there by Catriona Matthew, 2011 winner Karrie Webb, Michelle Wie, Eun-Hee Ji, Gerina Piller and Pernilla Lindberg.

Lydia Ko and I.K. Kim, who is making her season debut, are among seven players tied for 11th at 5-under 67.

Lee, whose best tour finish was a share of 24th at the 2012 Evian Masters, started on the back nine and got going with a birdie on the par-5 11th. After a par on 12, Lee poured in four consecutive birdie chances from the 13th to fly up the leaderboard.

The 23-year-old birdied the 18th to make the turn at minus-6. She made it two in a row with a birdie on the first, but she still trailed Pressel.

Lee, who was three groups behind Pressel, tripped to a bogey on the 11th, but bounced back with a birdie on the third. As Pressel fell back with bogeys on three and four, Lee moved to 8-under when she birdied the seventh. Lee parred the last two to end there.

"My putting was a little bit not good," Lee stated. "But the practice round and this morning, I hit it really good."

Pressel was on fire right from the start. She drained four consecutive birdies from the 10th. After a par on 14, Pressel made eagle on the par-5 15th to jump to minus-6.

The 2007 Kraft Nabisco winner birdied the 17th to make the turn at 7-under. She converted back-to-back birdies chances at one and two to climb to minus-9.

Pressel drove into a bush on the third and had to take a penalty drop. That led to a bogey and she dropped another shot on the fourth when her tee ball missed the green and she failed to get up and down.

"It was definitely, probably the hottest start I ever had, the best stretch of holes. I don't know that I was necessarily thinking 59, but I think I got a little excited, which I think is a little normal in that situation," Pressel stated. "As poorly as I hit it this morning on the range, to go out in 9-under through 11 holes, I was pretty happy with that."

Pressel capped her round with five straight pars to end in second.

NOTES: Lee has the overnight lead for the first time in her LPGA Tour career ... Pressel missed her career low round by one stroke ... Suzann Pettersen, the second ranked player in the world, is also in the field, and she opened with a 4-under 68, which left her tied for 18th.

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