Minjee Lee in solid opening at LPGA event

FP – Australian Minjee Lee has started solidly at the LPGA Tour’s Portland Classic, carding an opening-round 68 to sit three shots off the lead.

Americans Sandra Changkija and Amy Anderson shot seven-under par 65s to top the scoresheets on Thursday at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

Changkija and Anderson, who are both seeking their first tour wins, are a shot ahead of a group of three players including 17-year-old Canadian Brooke Henderson.

Of the other Australians in the field, only Stacey Keating (69) was below par.

Sarah Jane Smith signed for a 73, Karrie Webb and Katherine Kirk were tied for 113th after two-over 74s while Sarah Kemp (75) also had a tough day.

Changkija, 26, was one of the early starters and got off to a quick start on her first nine holes (the back nine) by firing a six-under 30.

She needed just 25 putts and closed out her round with a bogey on the ninth hole that would cost her sole possession of the lead.

“I hit some good drives out there. I think I hit about 12 fairways, just the putts started going in,” she said.

The 23-year-old Anderson got to seven-under after 12 holes, then managed pars the rest of the way.

“One of the key things was staying patient early,” Anderson said. “I’ve never held the lead before, so this is a new, learning experience.”

After a successful US college career, Anderson is still trying to find her way on the LPGA Tour. Her best finish is a tie for eighth.

“You have to learn to win at every level,” she said. “It started at local tournaments, then to national amateur tournaments, then collegiate, and now I’ve won a couple of professional events, but this is a whole other ballgame.”

Henderson, who qualified for this event on Monday, made six birdies and didn’t have a bogey. She was two strokes better than the 68 she shot on Monday to earn a spot in the field.

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