The 25-year-old South Korean fired a flawless ten under par 62 which gave her a three shot lead over Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and at the same time equalled Minea Blomqvist’s lowest round ever scored in the Championship set during the third round at Sunningdale back in in 2004.
Lee’s 62 was also just one shot more than the all-time low round recorded in any of the women’s Majors scored by her compatriot Hyo-Joo Kim during the first round of The Evian Championship in 2014.
Earlier this month the same South Korean also set the first round pace with a 64 at the US Women’s Open at CordeValle in California before dropping back into a share of 11th place behind winner Brittany Lang.
Lee opened her round with birdies on the 1st, 2nd and 4th and then added five more on consecutive holes from the 7th before completing her round with further advances on the 14th and 17th holes.
“It might be the best round I’ve ever played,” said Lee, who lives in Dallas and who made her only other appearance in the Ricoh Women’s British Open back in 2014. “I once shot 11-under during the third round of the LPGA Q-School and it just so happens my caddie that day (John Kileen) was my caddie today.
“I wanted to play in the British last year but I was injured so it’s good I’m here this week because I got to spend some time in London and do the touristy things. I went to Buckingham Palace and to Harrods and after that it was time to put my game face on.
“I’m just trying to have fun,” she added. “At the beginning of the year things weren’t going very well for me but I put a lot of work into it and it’s natural it’s paying off now.
Earlier this season Jutanugarn won on three successive starts on the LPGA Tour and she now has a great chance to bid for her first Major title after carding a fine 67 featuring seven birdies and no dropped shots.
“I love this course,” said the younger of the two Jutanguran sisters who play the LPGA Tour. “I think it really feeds on (suits) my game. It’s narrow. I tried to hit my driver twice in practice but then decided not to bring it (put it in the bag). I’m comfortable with my two-iron because I feel I can hit it hard and do whatever I want to do. “I really want to win a Major.”
On a day of very low scoring China’s Shanshan Feng claimed third place on 66 while South Korea’s Mi Hyang Lee and 2013 champion Stacy Lewis shared fourth place of 67 one shot ahead of South Korea’s Ha Na Jang, Spain’s Azahara Munoz, Canada’s Alena Sharp, Australia’s Sarah Jane Smith and 2014 champion Mo Martin from America.
Local Woburn member Charley Hull closed with two birdies to move up into a share of 11th place in the large group on 69. “It was good to finish birdie, birdie,” she said. “I was a bit nervous on the first tee because of the home crowd but I’m happy with my round.”