Minjee Lee wins, Danielle Kang loses as LPGA Match-Play tees off

Top-seeded Minjee Lee, three days removed from her first LPGA victory of the year, cruised to a win Wednesday in her opener at the LPGA Match-Play at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas.

The 25-year-old Australian routed South Korea’s Youngin Chun 6 and 5. Lee carded birdies to win seven of the players’ first 11 holes, then dropped one hole before halving No. 13 to seal the match.

“I made a bunch of birdies and I was able to keep the momentum going,” said Lee, who led the tour with a 68.893 scoring average entering the week. “It was nice to get done early today. It’s getting really hot.”

The 64-player field is divided into 16 groups of four in a round-robin group stage. The group winners will advance to a 16-player, single-elimination bracket.

Malaysia’s Kelly Tan turned in the day’s biggest rout, a 7-and-6 destruction of Race to the CME Globe leader Danielle Kang. Tan never lost a hole, and at one stretch she won six consecutive holes, all with birdies.

“I thought I played really well today, gave myself lots of chances,” Tan said. “Yeah, we played against Danielle today and it … looked like she was in a little bit of pain, which, I felt a little bad.”

Kang, a member of Shadow Creek, is trying to rebound from a back ailment that caused her to withdraw from two of her previous three events.

“I’m just doing everything I can off the golf course to get me through the days and to get back to where I was, and it’s going to take some time,” she said. “It’s going to take some patience and time for everybody. I just need to thank my team for getting me here. It’s a little win that I have to take right now.”

Other Wednesday winners included Lee and Germany’s Caroline Masson in Group 1; Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan in Group 2; Allisen Corpuz in Group 3; Tan and South Korea’s Eun-Hee Ji in Group 4; Lauren Stephenson and Emma Talley in Group 5; Australia’s Hannah Green and South Korea’s Jenny Shin in Group 6; Elizabeth Szokol and South Africa’s Paula Reto in Group 7; and Cheyenne Knight and Mexico’s Gaby Lopez in Group 8.

Also winning were Spain’s Carlota Ciganda in Group 10; Annie Park and France’s Perrine Delacour in Group 11; Ryann O’Toole and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom in Group 12; South Korea’s Hye-Jin Choi and India’s Aditi Ashok in Group 13; Lilia Vu and Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn in Group 14; and England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Thailand’s Jasmine Suwannapura in Group 15.

Ewart Shadoff earned a 6-and-5 victory over defending champion Ally Ewing, who missed the cut in each of her past three tournaments.

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