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Friday October 12, 2012

Unheralded teen Min Lee steals the show as Yani struggles

All the attention was supposed to be on world No. 1 Tseng Yani but it was another Taiwanese, who is only an amateur, who stole the show on the first day of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club yesterday.

Unheralded high school student Min Lee put the power-packed field in the shades with a five-under 66 to take the early lead at the US$1.9mil tournament before rain stopped play in the afternoon.

While Yani struggled to impress and finished with a disastrous seven-over 78, the 17-year-old Min Lee sparkled on the greens instead to end the day high on the leaderboard.

In fact, she ended the day in joint second with Yoo Sun-young of South Korea and Japan’s Mika Miyazato.

South Korea’s defending champion Choi Na-yeon and Australia’s Karrie Webb shared the lead with an identical six-under 65.

Min Lee, who only joined the illustrious field after finishing second in the regional qualifiers at the same course last month, produced seven birdies against two bogeys.

And she’s glad to have the chance to play a practice round of nine holes with her idol Yani on Tuesday.

“I played at the KLGCC for the first time during the regional qualifiers last month. I had one practice round just before the tournament. Wow, this is my first time on the LPGA. I feel wow. This is cool,” said Min Lee, who could hardly contain her excitement after finishing her round.

Min Lee, who is a student at Nanhu Senior High School, said she felt very nervous the night before and could hardly sleep.

“I went to bed at 10pm but did not sleep well. I was so nervous I kept getting up during the night. I kept telling myself ‘this is the LPGA, this is the LPGA’,” she said.

“I just told myself after every shot to just concentrate on the next. This is my first time playing in an LPGA event and I am very happy to have played so well.

“My goal at the start was to try and learn as much as I could and have a good attitude throughout this week.”

Min Lee was full of praises for what Yani has done in world golf.

“She taught me many things during the practice round about golf, like the mental aspect, which I find very useful,” said Lee Min.

Fellow Taiwanese and a 10-year veteran on the LPGA Tour Candie Kung was heading for a storming finish before rain disrupted her momentum.

She was four-under with six holes to play before play was called off due to threat of lightning.

But three consecutive bogeys on the 14th, 16th and 17th saw her slip out of the top 20 to finish with a one-under 71.

“I always love playing here, except for the thunderstorm we are having right now. It was good, yeah, I was very happy with how I played, except for the rain,” said Candie, who finished joint 18th last year.

“I’m doing a couple of swing changes and hopefully it all goes well.”

Related Stories:
Ainil and Aretha Malaysia’s best finishers after first round
Aussie legend turns back the clock to share lead with Na-yeon
Thailand’s Ariya eyes top 10 finish before turning pro
Pressel’s great cause outside the course

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