PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Lydia Ko took a share of the lead in her first start as an LPGA Tour member, matching Meena Lee with a 5-under 68 on Thursday in the season-opening Bahamas LPGA Classic.
The 16-year-old Ko turned pro late last year. She won the Canadian Women's Open the last two years as an amateur and closed last season with a victory in a non-tour event in Taiwan in her second pro start.
Ranked No. 4 in the world, the South Korean-born New Zealander had six birdies and a bogey on Atlantis Resort's Ocean Club course.
"I just tried to play my own game and be relaxed," Ko said. "I got off to a shaky start and I needed to make a 4-footer for par, but when I made birdie at No. 2, I was able to relax. I was actually shocked that I wasn't nervous. I felt I even played better than my score. I gave myself a lot of opportunities."
Lee, from South Korea, eagled the par-4 13th and had four birdies and a bogey.
"I had a wintertime working hard, so that's why I have more confidence than last year," said Lee, a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour. "That's why I feel very good and happy to play in the first tournament."
Third-ranked Stacy Lewis was a stroke back at 69 along with Jessica Korda, Brittany Lang, Mirim Lee, Austin Ernst, Danah Bordner, Amelia Lewis, P.K. Kongkraphan and Candie Kung.
Lewis played alongside Ko.
"When she gets some confidence in herself, the rest of this tour better watch out," Lewis said. "When I saw we were paired together, I was pretty happy. She is just a really likable kid. ...