WEIHAI, China, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Lee Jung-min set the early pace at the Asiana Airlines Open on Friday as the veteran South Korean golfer began with three straight birdies and cruised to an opening round seven-under 65 for a two-shot lead here on Friday.
Lee So-young and Kim Min-sun were tied for second on 67 at Weihai Point Golf Resort as the South Koreans dominated the leaderboard at the 4.15 million yuan (620,000 U.S. dollars) tournament, a China LPGA Tour and LPGA Tour of Korea (KLPGA) co-sponsored event.
South Korea's Kim Ji-hyun, Ji Han-sol and Lee Seung-hyun were tied for fourth on 69.
Zhang Yunjie was the top Chinese player, as the Hainan native opened with 71 to sit six shots off the pace in a group with Thailand's Saranporn Langkulgasettrin, the CLPGA Tour Order of Merit leader.
World No. 6 Feng Shanshan of China, the highest ranked player in the field, shot 73 in a group of seven players that included defending champion Park Bo-mi of South Korea.
Lee Jung-min, an eight-time winner on the KLPGA Tour, shot her best round of the season to put herself in contention to end a victory drought dating back to 2016. With her round featuring eight birdies and a lone bogey, she credited her strong start to accuracy off the tee on the tight Weihai Point layout that sits on a peninsula jutting out into Bohai Bay.
"I only used the driver off the tee five times. On some occasions the fairway is not long. On other occasions, you want more accurate shots so you don't have to lean so much on your driver. Overall, I felt good about my game," said the 26-year-old Seoul native.
"Since my last win in 2016 [at the World Ladies' Championship at Mission Hills in Guangdong] I changed coach, but I then changed back to my previous coach late last year. I found that I have played better and better since then. My plan wouldn't change tomorrow. The wind is blowing stronger now. I will use my advantage on windy days. Everyone knows that you must keep yourself in play to be in contention. For the next few days I will focus on my accuracy."
Lee So-young, another big hitter who will play in a group with leader Lee tomorrow, reeled off three straight birdies starting from the 15th hole to get into contention. Her round included seven birdies and two bogeys.
"The wind was strong out there. I just wanted to play safe. I made some disappointing mistakes but I also made some birdies to make up for it," said the 21-year-old, a two-time winner on the KLPGA Tour.
"I haven't played with her (Lee Jung-min) for a long while. I think she could be longer than me. But you know that accuracy off the tee here is much more important than power."
After starting the day from the Weihai Point back nine, China national team player Zhang was three-under par through 13 holes until two late bogeys derailed her round.
"I had a good start but I lost my focus late in my round," said the 18-year-old who tied for sixth at the Orient Masters Wuhan Challenge in May. "One-under is still a good round to me, especially after I missed the cut previously the two times I played here."
Weihai Point Golf Resort is a 6,155-yard, par-72 layout designed by GolfPlan.