Michelob Open: Sarah Lee takes lead

Sarah Lee tied the course record with an 8-under 63 on Thursday in the first ound of the Michelob Ultra Open.

updated: May 13, 2007 14:46 IST
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Sarah Lee tied the course record with an 8-under 63 on Thursday and Kim Mi-hyun was one back after a bogey-free round in wind-free conditions that saw nearly half the field shoot par or better in the first ound of the Michelob Ultra Open.

With greens softer than usual on the 6,306-yard River Course at Kingsmill, 69 golfers in the 144-woman field shot 72 or better.

"Easier than before," Kim said.

And she's one of only two players - 2005 winner Cristie Kerr is the other - to finish in the top 10 four straight times at Kingsmill.

Laura Davies and Birdie Kim shot 65s in the afternoon, when some wind kicked up on the course along the James River, but the assault on par lessened only slightly.

Lee, still seeking her first victory in her 124th start on the US women's tour, had nine birdies - including five in a row on the front nine. The run included a winding, downhill 36-foot putt, and the round evoked memories for her of 2004, when she opened with a career-best 60 at Tuscon and finished second, also her best.

"I have three more rounds, so I have to be steady and (confident)," she said.

Kim, who beat Hall of Famer Juli Inkster in a playoff Sunday in the SemGroup Championship, started her round hoping to shoot 4 under, but found herself adjusting expectations upward.

"After nine holes, already 3 under, and after 10 holes, 4 under," she said. "OK, I make one more. And then after, one more, and I'm like, OK, try one more."

She finished with seven birdies and no bogeys.

Siew-Ai Lim, Suzann Pettersen and Brittany Lincicome shot 66s in the morning to be three off the pace, and all four former champions came in under par, too.

"There was no wind, the temperatures were perfect and the course is in terrific shape," said Grace Park, who won the first women's event here in 2003. She shot 67, one of a group of six that also featured Morgan Pressel, Natalie Gulbis and Carin Koch.

For Lim, the round was easily her best of the year, and started with nine pars in a row.

"The back nine, it just kind of fell together," she said.

Defending champion Karrie Webb was in a group of 11 at 68.

"I don't think those scores will hold up all week," she said. "Conditions were good today. The greens were softer than the past and there wasn't any wind in the morning."

The 46-year-old Inkster, bidding to become the oldest winner on the LPGA Tour, also shot a 68. Her round included the lone ace of the day on the 142-yard 13th with an 8-iron.