American rookie Alison Lee and unheralded Chinese player Xi Yu Lin upstaged the big names to jointly hold the lead after the rain-interrupted first round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC).
Lee and Lin carded matching six-under-par 65s at KLGCC’s East Course to top the leaderboard, with defending champion Shanshan Feng of China, American star Michelle Wie, former World No 1 Yani Tseng of Chinese Taipei and Korea’s Chella Choi just one shot behind.
“It’s always good to start off with a good number and be on the leader board. There is still a lot of golf left so anything can happen, but definitely happy with my round today. Started strong, always good to start strong, but I have to be able to finish strong if I want to do well,” said the 20-year-old Lee.
“I just feel like I was putting really well. I got a brand new set of clubs, so I hit a couple shots a little here and there, but I was making a lot of the good putts. I think I made a really good like 30-, 40-footer on one of the holes for birdie, so definitely my putting was on today,” she added.
A visibly delighted Lin said: “Well, this is my second year playing this tournament, and last year I was sick the first two rounds so I didn’t play very well. Last year I finished pretty good, so I know I can play well on this course. I’m happy.”
World No 1 Inbee Park of Korea – who won this event in 2012 – stayed in touch with the leaders after an opening 68, while Kiwi teen phenomenon Lydia Ko signed in an even-par 71.
Malaysian No 1 Kelly Tan enjoyed a good start to her campaign, carding a one-under-par 70 to lie in joint 22nd place.
“I played great all day. Ball striking’s been really good. Just didn’t really have those putts going in the first few holes. But on the back nine everything really started to come back together, and I was really pleased because I was staying patient all round,” said Tan.
Play was halted at 1.27pm due to lightning and a subsequent thunderstorm, resuming at 4.30pm.