Lewis shot 3-under-par 67 to lead the opening round of the U.S. Women's Open on Thursday at Pinehurst No. 2, where the men's championship wrapped up last weekend.
Lewis holds a one-stroke lead on Michelle Wie.
Wie surged up the leaderboard with three birdies on the first five holes of the back nine, pulling her to 2 under. She dropped back into the 1-under group with a bogey on No. 16 and then responded with a birdie on her last hole of the day.
Play was suspended at 7:12 p.m. because of storms with several groups yet to finish their rounds.
Lewis, from The Woodlands, Texas, seemed undeterred by the oppressive heat, though her round was complete before the extra-sticky stuff arrived by mid-afternoon.
Lewis played a bogey-free round, with her score bolstered by birdies on three par-4 holes.
Paula Creamer, who began her round on the 10th hole, settled for an even-par 70 with a bogey on the last hole. She had a stretch of 3 under in four holes on the front side to recover from a 2 over on the back nine.
Chow, a rising junior at Pepperdine, plummeted fast with back-to-back-to-back double bogeys on Nos. 8, 9 and 10 -- and she still had eight holes to play.
Much of the early attention fell on Lucy Li, an 11-year-old from Redwood Shores, Calif., and the youngest entrant in tournament history.
Wearing a patriotic outfit with a skirt, she registered a 78 and then arrived for postgame interviews eating an ice cream bar.
Li said she struggled at times. She played 7 over across three costly holes, 1 over the rest of the time.
Other than the cuteness factor that seemed to endear her to the gallery, she left an impression with her skills as well.
At the other extreme, Juli Inkster is in her 35th U.S. Women's Open, announcing prior to the tournament that it is likely her last time entering. She posted 1-over 71 and sounded encouraged.
Amateur Brooke Henderson, a 16-year-old Canadian, led at times during the morning before stumbling on the back nine. She was 4 over in the last eight holes, finishing at 1 over for the round.