Jones, Lee make bright starts in Asian events - PGA of Australia

Jones, Lee make bright starts in Asian events

Aussie pair Matt Jones and Minjee Lee have made bright starts to their respective tournaments as both the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour commenced events in Asia on Thursday.

After a shift to California last year due to COVID-19 the ZOZO Championship returned to Japan where local hero and reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was overshadowed slightly by countryman Hiroshi Iwata, Iwata posting a round of 7-under 63 to lead Matsuyama and Chilean Joaquin Niemann by a single stroke, Englishman Matt Wallace (65) and American Brendan Steele (66) rounding out the top five.

Jones is one of seven players locked together in a share of sixth after opening rounds of 3-under 67, Jones making a late surge up the leaderboard with birdies at both of his closing two holes.

With the presentation of Narashino Country Club drawing comparisons with Augusta National, Jones picked up where he left off in his return to competition a week ago, picking up birdies at both the first and second holes.

He dropped a shot at the par-4 fourth but got back to 2-under on his round with a third birdie of the day at the par-5 sixth.

Seven straight pars followed before another dropped shot at the par-5 14th, Jones signing off on his opening round with consecutive birdies to finish on a high.

Unlike Jones, Lee has been involved in a hectic globe-trotting schedule of late, returning to play her second event in Korea in three weeks at the LPGA Tour’s BMW Ladies Championship in Busan.

Two weeks after losing a playoff at the Korean LPGA Tour’s Hana Financial Group Championship Lee was flawless on day one, reeling off five birdies in a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 to be tied for seventh, three strokes back of Na Rin An who had nine birdies in her round of 8-under 64 at LPGA International Busan.

Continuing her outstanding recent form, Lee hit all 18 greens in regulation in cold and wet conditions on day one but could only get five of her birdie putts to fall, her total of 32 putts a number the world No.6 will be hoping to reduce in Round 2.

There were seven birdies and three bogeys in Hannah Green’s opening round of 4-under 68 as she shares 14th position while Su Oh (71) and Sarah Kemp (76) sit further down the leaderboard.

The Second Stage of the Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school will continue overnight with Sydney’s Justin Warren tied at the top at the halfway mark at one of four qualifying sites.

Rounds of 65-69 at the Bear Creek Golf Club in California has Warren in position to secure one of the 19 spots on offer to progress to the Korn Ferry Tour Q School finals with Kiwi Denzel Ieremia tied for eighth with two rounds to play.

South Coast native Travis Smyth and Perth’s Danny List are currently tied for 28th and New Zealand’s Nick Voke with work to do in a tie for 42nd.

European Tour regular Jason Scrivener could be set for a US switch as he sits tied for fifth chasing one of 20 spots to the finals in Florida, Mathew Goggin down the leaderboard at 2-over through 36 holes.

Steve Allan, James Nitties and Ryan Ruffels are all well down the leaderboard at Stage II in Albuquerque.

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