Lee flirted with the best round on Tour this season before settling for a nine-under 63 and a three-shot lead Friday at the halfway point of the tournament that honours the 13 founding members of the women's Tour.

The Australian had a 14-under 130 total at Upper Montclair Country Club.

"Hitting it close really helps you, just like I said before, really just frees you up," said Lee, who has two top-five finishes in six events.

"Even with the short putts, it's just like a little more confidence boost."

First-round leader Madelene Sagstrom, Lexi Thompson and Ally Ewing share second. Sagstrom had a 70, while Thompson and Ewing posted 66s to finish at 11-under.

"Hitting it close really helps you, just like I said before, really just frees you up." - Minjee Lee.

Lee got to 10-under with three holes to play but bogeyed the 16th and failed to tie the Tour's low round of 62 by Yuka Saso of Japan in the Honda event in Thailand.

Entering the week with a scoring averaging of 69.167, Lee tied for second in the HSBC Women's World Championship in March and shared third in the LA Open last month.

"Maybe this will be the first one and it'll kick start the rest of the year," she said.

Sagstrom, who had a 63 on Thursday, got off to a slow start trying to go low again.

"A lot of things can happen," Sagstrom said. "A lot of the things can happen to the golf course, the way they set it up and all that.

"So just giving myself a chance is all I can about myself, and my best today was two--under, so I was really pleased."

The 27-year-old Thompson has won 11 LPGA titles, including a major, but she has not won on Tour since the ShopRite Classic in New Jersey three years ago.

She was not happy being asked about the drought.

"The talent out here is truly amazing. I mean, it's tough to win," she said. "All I can do is control my emotions and how much hard work I put in, and I know the amount of work that I put into it, so if it doesn't happen, doesn't happen. It's not the end of my life."

Sanna Nuutinen, a 31-year-old Finn playing her first season on the LPGA Tour, had a 68 and was alone in fifth.

Carlota Ciganda, Paula Reto and Megan Khang, who was a shot behind Sagstrom after the opening round, were tied one shot further back.

Anna Davis, the 16-year-old who won the recent Augusta National Women's Amateur, made her second straight cut playing on a sponsor's exemption after two straight 70s.

Two shots further back is Australian Sarah Kemp, who was helped by a 69 after her opening 72.

Eighty players in the field of 144 made the cut at one-under, with Stephanie Kyriacou (73, 71) missing by one.