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Lee surges ahead of the pack in Melbourne

LEE Chang-hee of South Korea shot a 3-under-par 70 yesterday to take a two-stroke lead over Karrie Webb and two others at the Women's Australian Open in Melbourne.

Lee had a two-round total of 7-under 139 on the Metropolitan Golf Club course that hosted the 2001 men's World Match Play Championship. She had five birdies -- three on the par-5s -- and two bogeys, including on the par-3, 132-meter 13th hole.

Webb, trying to win her third Australian Open in a row and fifth of her career, struggled in tougher afternoon conditions for a 75 after an opening 66.

She was tied for second with England's Georgina Simpson, who shot 68 for the best round of the day, and Tania Elosegui of Spain (72).

Beth Allen of the United States shot 69 and was three strokes back, tied for fifth with Marianne Skarpnord of Norway (71).

Lee, who celebrated her 20th birthday two weeks ago, has one win on the South Korean secondary tour and was surprised at her strong start.

"I played well but I did not think I would be leading," Lee said. "It's too early to say about the weekend ... I don't want to jump ahead of myself."

Webb said she was "still very much in the tournament."

"I really did not think there would be low scores this afternoon and seven under was in before I teed off," Webb said. "I'm glad that I hung in there and am only two shots behind."

Katherine Hull of Australia, who won last week's ANZ Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines, shot 74 yesterday and is 11 strokes off Lee.

Oh Su-hyun, a 12-year-old schoolgirl from Busan, South Korea who moved to Australia in 2004, missed the cut after shooting an 81 yesterday. The Year 7 student became the youngest ever to play in the tournament when she led qualifying Monday at nearby Kingswood Golf Club.

Oh's two-round total was 14-over 160.

"I was really nervous yesterday, my hands were shaking when I was trying to putt," Oh said. "Today, it wasn't so bad, but I was still nervous."


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