Lee and American Jennifer Kupcho posted six-under-par 66s in the morning wave at The Chevron Championship at Mission Hills.

Up to fourth in the world rankings following a hot start to 2022, Lee was among the favourites at a course very much to the pure ball striker's liking and duly delivered with six birdies in a bogey-free round.

The 25-year-old birdied all four par 5s in the sunny and calm conditions to earn herself a jump on the field, compatriot Gabi Ruffels part of a six way tie for fourth at four-under with defending champion Patty Tavatanakit in second alone on five-under.

"It was perfect," Lee said. "Not like a breath of wind when we played. Maybe just a tiny bit, but conditions are great. Putting greens are rolling real nice. I don't think you can get better than that."

Lee won the Evian Championship last summer for her first major title and sixth LPGA Tour victory.

Victorian Gabi Ruffels is two off the lead of Minjee Lee after round one. PHOTO: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

"I know I have one under my belt, but I do want a little bit more," she said.

"I just think I have a little bit more belief in myself and my game so I can be a little bit more comfortable just hitting the shots that I choose."

Kupcho birdied holes 11 through to 14 to get to eight-under, then bogeyed the next two holes. She birdied four of the first five holes and finished with nine birdies and three bogeys.

"I really like the layout of this golf course, the beautiful shape that it's in every year," Kupcho said.

"It always is so fun to be here, so just taking advantage of how much I like the course and the atmosphere."

Winless on the LPGA Tour, the 24-year-old from Colorado won the 2018 NCAA individual title for Wake Forest and took the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur the following year.

RIGHT: Jennifer Kupcho shares the lead with Aussie Lee, the American briefly getting to eight-under on Thursday. PHOTO: Harry How/Getty Images.

She arrived at Mission Hills early after missing the cut last week at Aviara in Carlsbad.

"Honestly I just don't like that course last week," Kupcho said. "It doesn't set up for my eye, so I really didn't think much of it.

"I just used the two days that I did have on the weekend to come here and practise."

Anna Nordqvist, Caroline Masson and Lydia Ko are part of the group alongside Ruffels following 68s, and 2014 winner Lexi Thompson in the group another stroke back.

Thompson marvelled at the conditions on the course she first played as a 14-year-old amateur.

"I've never seen it this good," Thompson said. "It always surprises me every year. It's always better, but the greens are amazing.

"I'm one to putt and usually aim at things along the way, and there is just not an imperfection on greens to aim at. It's a good problem."

Ruffels made six birdies offset by back-to-back bogeys at 4 and 5, while Hannah Green also opened her 2022 major campaign solidly with a two-under 70.

Sarah Kemp (+1) and Su Oh (+2) have work to do to make the weekend, the pair sitting either side of the projected cut at one-over.

- Additional reporting, Jimmy Emanuel