Lee edges Pressel for LPGA lead but both miss 59
Mirim Lee of South Korea hits a tee shot on the fourth hole during the first round of the JTBC LPGA Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club on March 20, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona - by Christian Petersen
But both chased Annika Sorenstam's LPGA record-low round of 59 before coming up short of that magical mark at Wildfire Golf Club.
Lee began on the back nine and fired six birdies, then added another at the first to stand seven-under. But she took her lone bogey at the par-5 second before responding with birdies at the third and seventh holes to grab the lead.
"Everything was good," Lee said. "Good day."
It was only the third LPGA event and first in the United States for Lee, who shared 33rd in January at the Bahamas and 25th at the Women's Australian Open last month.
Pressel also began on the back nine and she started with four birdies in a row, added an eagle at the par-5 15th and birdied the par-3 17th for a 29 after nine holes.
When she made back-to-back birdies after the turn to reach nine-under, a buzz began over 59. But Pressel made bogeys at the third and fourth holes and parred her way in from there to settle for second behind Lee.
Pressel's tee shot at the third was unplayable, landing in a bush, and she missed the green with her third shot.
"I hit a very poor tee shot and ended up kind of on the side of this little bush, and I could have hit it left handed and there were a couple of burrowing animal holes around," Pressel said.
"I don’t know if I was necessarily thinking 59, but I probably just got a little bit excited, because I had never been that many under par in that short of a span of time," Pressel said. "I just got a little bit quick and came back to Earth."
World number one Park In-Bee of South Korea, defending champion and third-ranked American Stacy Lewis, Australian star Karrie Webb and US star Michelle Wie were in a pack sharing third on 66.
"I was hitting the ball good all day, but just on the front the putts didn't seem like they wanted to go in," Park said. "I holed some putts on the back nine so it was a very solid round."
Also two adrift were Scotland's Catriona Matthew, Sweden's Pernilla Lindberg, American Gerina Piller and South Korean Ji Eun-Hee.