Mi Hyang Lee leads Phoenix LPGA event after first-round 62
PHOENIX -- Se Ri Pak's impact on South Korean golf was evident at the JTBC Founders Cup on the day the Hall of Famer announced she is retiring at the end of the season.
"She's my idol," leader Mi Hyang Lee said. "I saw her on TV when I was 4 years old. When I was 15 years old, I played with her in Korea when I was amateur. ... I will miss her."
Lee shot a tournament-record 10-under 62 on Thursday after playing her first nine holes in 9 under in perfect conditions at Desert Ridge.
The 38-year-old Pak broke the retirement news after an afternoon 69.
She has won 25 LPGA Tour titles and five majors, two of them as a rookie in 1998, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.
"It's pretty hard to make a decision to be retiring," Pak said. "I'll miss all my friends."
The 22-year-old Lee threatened to shoot the second 59 in LPGA Tour history after opening with an eagle and seven birdies on Wildfire's Nick Faldo-designed back nine.
Needing to play the Arnold Palmer-designed front nine in 4 under to break 60, Lee made only one more birdie -- on the par-5 fifth -- in the afternoon heat.
"I didn't think the 59," Lee said. "If I think the 59, maybe I shoot over par (on the last nine)."
Annika Sorenstam is the only player to shoot 59 in an LPGA Tour event, accomplishing the feat in the second round of the 2001 Standard Register Ping at nearby Moon Valley.
Lee matched the nine-hole record of 9 under set by Amy Yang last year in South Korea. Lee, Yang and three other players share the nine-hole stroke mark of 27.
"I had a lot better luck today," Lee said. "I had fun today."
Lee tied for third last year at Desert Ridge. She won her lone LPGA Tour title in 2014 in Japan.
Sei Young Kim and Brittany Lang were tied for second at 63.
Playing in cooler morning conditions, Kim birdied nine of the first 14 holes, and Lang made nine birdies in a 13-hole stretch.
The 23-year-old Kim won three times last season and was the LPGA Tour's rookie of the year. At No. 7 in the world, she's in position for the last of South Korea's four spots on the Pak-captained team in the Rio Olympics.
"My goal, first thing, is Olympics to represent the country," Kim said.
The 30-year-old Lang was coming off a closing 65 two weeks ago in Singapore, a breakthrough round in her mental approach.
"I felt like I was thinking too much about stuff that doesn't matter," Lang said. "I was super confident and decisive today."
Italy's Giulia Sergas had a 64, and Gerina Piller was another stroke back along with Minjee Lee and Swedes Anna Nordqvist, Dani Holmqvist and Pernilla Lindberg. Piller and Nordqvist played alongside Kim, with the group finishing a combined 23 under.
"This is kind of like golfing in a bubble," Piller said. "It's perfect weather, great golf course, perfect conditions. ... You can definitely get in a rhythm out there and just kind of feed off each other."
Cydney Clanton had a hole-in-one on the 17th in a 68. She won a Kia K900.
"I was sitting there looking at the car, and I was like, `If I win the car, I need to change the rims.' I'm not real keen on those," Clanton said. "But that's a really nice car."
Defending champion Hyo Joo Kim had a 69. She won the opener in the Bahamas.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko was in a group at 70 that included Ha Na Jang and Stacy Lewis. Jang has won two of the first five events this season. Lewis won the 2013 event and finished second the last two years.
DIVOTS: U.S. Women's Amateur champion Hannah O'Sullivan had a 72. The 17-year-old O'Sullivan is a high school senior in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. ... Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, the 2011 and 2014 winner, shot 73... Michelle Wie had two double bogeys in a 77.