MISSION HILLS ree Wongluekiet shot a 3-under-par 67, the only sub-par round Monday, to lead the 156-player field after the first day of stroke play at the 2001 U.S. Girls' Junior at Indian Hills Country Club.
"I played really well. I hit the ball really well and I was putting well, which helped a lot," said Wongluekiet, 15, who captured the title two years ago to become the youngest champion in USGA history. "Every year, the Girls' Junior always has the strongest field and the course is always difficult. You have to hit the fairways. If you do that you'll be OK.
"It's not extremely long, but it can get difficult if you don't hit the fairways and greens."
Wongluekiet, who finished second in the American Junior Golf Assn.'s Lucent Technologies Girls Junior Championship two years ago at Eagle Bend Golf Course, has a three-stroke lead over Whitney Wade and Amanda Blumenherst.
"I'm really confident in my putting," said Wade, who made 18 pars. "I kept it in play like I'm supposed to."
Seven players were four strokes back at 1-over-par 71, including Christina Kim, who made the cut at the 2001 Women's Open. Defending champion Erica Blasberg led a group of five players, who shot 2-over-par 72.
Wongluekiet, who will be a junior at Bradenton (Fla.) Academy, toured the course with six birdies and three bogeys and was 3-under on the more difficult back nine.
A native of Thailand, Wongluekiet is the younger of a set of identical twins. Her sister, Naree, who won the AJGA event at Eagle Bend in 1999, shot a 7-over-par 77.