Heavy overnight rains forced a four-hour delay to the start of the first round. Officials were also forced to reduce the waterlogged 571-yard par-5 5th to a 177-yard par-3, thus reducing the course to a par-70.
And while only half of the 150-man field was able to complete their first 18 holes, Lee shrugged off the wait and carded a flawless round to lead Swede Anders Forsbrand and fellow Englishmen Jonathan Lomas and Warren Bennett by one shot.
I struggled with my putting last week in Portugal, Lee said. I just put some more loft on my putter, another two degrees on it and it helps get the ball rolling. I thought putting some loft on would be a big job, but the Ping guy did it in no time. Just wacked it with a hammer.
Lee hammered the Sangliers course Thursday to the tune of six birdies and no bogeys.
Per usual, Lee opted not to play a practice round; instead choosing to walk the course with a bit of chipping and putting while drawing every hole to get a feel for the course.
I think what I do is much better than a practice round, said Lee, whose best finish on the European Tour is a tie for fifth in the 2000 BMW International Open.
It saves me energy. I can get here Tuesday lunchtime and can do the whole course in three or four hours. I prefer doing that.
Jose Maria Olazabal is just two shots off the lead midway through the first round. The Spaniard opened in 4-under-par 66.
Play will resume at 8am local time Friday morning.
Full-field scores from the Novotel Perrier Open de France