Lee gains confidence in her swing, leads Meijer

golf14 June 2024 03:55| © Reuters

Alison Lee shot a 7-under-par 65 to grab the first-round lead at the Meijer LPGA Classic on Thursday in Belmont, Mich.

Lee had a busy opening round that featured an eagle, seven birdies and two bogeys at Blythefield Country Club. That afforded her a two-shot lead over a group of nine golfers tied for second at 5-under 67.

Brooke M. Henderson joined that group late in the day by eagling her final hole, the par-5 18th. The Canadian star joined 2022 champion Jennifer Kupcho, Lizette Salas, Lauren Hartlage, Italy's Benedetta Moresco, South Korea's Narin An, Spain's Carlota Ciganda, Ssu-Chia Cheng of Taiwan and Daniela Darquea of Ecuador at 67.

Lee, a 29-year-old from Los Angeles, is ranked No 18 in the world but has yet to win on the LPGA Tour. She said she wasn't happy with her swing early in the day.

"I mean, confidence is a huge factor," Lee said. "There can be some days I don't feel quite confident. You just have to work with what you got. That's how I felt today. As the round went on, I would say the last four, five holes, definitely felt a lot better with my swing."

Lee started her round on the back nine, carding five birdies with one bogey. She was at 5 under when she reached the par-5 eighth hole, where her second shot landed inside 15 feet to set her up for the eagle putt.

"Obviously with hole 8, there is a bunker on the left and right," Lee said. "So I just tried to do the best I can to trust my swing and do the move that I wanted to do and swing smooth. I was able to hit it straight.

"Really happy with my putting. I think I had 24 putts today or something like that."

Henderson, who won this tournament in 2017 and 2019, eagled both the eighth and 18th holes Thursday to account for most of her scoring.


Of the group tied at 67, the only players who stayed bogey-free were Salas and An.

Salas, 34, has had a difficult time making her comeback this season after she cut her 2023 campaign short to rehab a back injury.

"Just makes me grateful for the journey I've been on, even though it's been a rough one," Salas said. "You know, we're not 100 per cent recovered yet, but just puts things into perspective. I just have a whole new attitude. I'm happy off the golf course. I have a host family here I've been staying with for ten years. I'm just in a good place, and hopefully I can just keep making solid decisions and committing and we can have ourselves a good week."

Defending champ Leona Maguire of Ireland opened with an even-par 72. Nelly Korda shot a 4-over 76.