American Alison Lee moved into early position Thursday to make a run at winning her first LPGA event.
Lee opened with a 7-under-par 65 to take the first-round lead at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in Incheon, South Korea. She’s three shots ahead of a pack of five players, including fellow American Lizette Salas and South Korea’s In Kyung Kim, who is looking to win for the third time in the last five weeks.
Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened with a 70.
Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko struggled to a 75 and No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn to a 73.
Lee, 21, is making a strong finish to the 2016 season after a rough start to her year. She injured her left shoulder at season’s start and missed five consecutive starts through late spring and early summer. Lee has bounced back with three top-10 finishes in her last six starts.
“I actually injured my shoulder back in February, and I didn't know what was wrong,” Lee said. “My swing was changing and all that and I definitely wasn't performing the same way I used to.”
Lee later learned she tore her labrum.
“It definitely hurt a lot, a huge portion of my mental game,” she said. “I was struggling a lot on the golf course, not only because of my injury, but because I was scared. I was scared of the ball. I didn't know where it was going to go. So, definitely, it was really tough mentally going through that, missing all those cuts. Last year, I played very well, and I had a lot of very high expectations for myself this year. So, very disappointed in that, but I am very happy with where my game is now.”