Minjee Lee has started promisingly as seemingly unstoppable World No.1 Jin Young Ko sets the early pace at the LPGA Tour's JTBC Classic in Carlsbad, California.
Ko picked up where she left off three weeks ago in Singapore as she shot a bogey-free seven-under 65 at Aviara Golf Club to take a one-stroke lead over Denmark's Nanna Koerstz Madsen in the final event before the first major of the season next week at Mission Hills.
Australia's World No.4 Lee also continued her strong start to the season, overcoming two early bogeys for a three-under 69 to be 11th.
Lee tied second behind Ko in Singapore and shared 12th behind Koerstz Madsen in her previous two starts in 2022.
Katherine Kirk was best of the other Australians with a 71, while rookie Steph Kyriacou and Hannah Green both had 73s to be tied 87th.
Ko's victory in Singapore in the HSBC Women's World Championship in her only other LPGA Tour start of the year was her sixth in her last 10 tournaments and 13th overall.
RIGHT: Jin Young Ko once again leads a tournament on the LPGA Tour, the World No.1 adding to her record of rounds under par. PHOTO: Donald Miralle/Getty Images.
On Thursday, the South Korean star extended her Tour record for consecutive rounds in the 60s to 16 and sub-par rounds to 31.
"I love to play golf right now," Ko said. "I'm really enjoying right now on the course, playing with whoever. I can focus myself. Shot by shot I can feel confidence 100 percent and I can focus 100 percent for my ball."
Ko, Lee and the rest of the world's other top players are preparing for next week's The Chevron Championship, a major tournament Ko won in 2019 that is being played at Mission Hills for the final time.
"I love to play in West Coast, and especially before the major," Ko said. "I need to warm up before the first major of the year."
Koerstz Madsen won the Honda LPGA Thailand two weeks ago to become the first Danish winner in LPGA Tour history. She had a late eagle on the par-5 eighth in her afternoon round.
"I love to play golf right now." - Jin Young Ko.
"I'm very pleased with the score," Koerstz Madsen. "I think I only hit maybe four fairways, so I was struggling. ... But I made some good putts out there, which I maybe wasn't expecting."