Australian golfer Minjee Lee leads US Women’s Open by three shots with one round to go in North Carolina
Minjee Lee threatens to run away with the spoils after taking a three-shot lead in the third round of the US Women’s Open in North Carolina.
Lee shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday to move to 13 under at Pine Needles Golf and Country Club, a course with a history of dominating champions.
The last three US Women’s Open third-round leaders at the venue have won the championship, including Lee’s fellow Australian Karrie Webb in 2001, leaving the 26-year-old well-positioned to win her second career major.
The in-form world number four started the day slow, bogeying on the fifth hole to fall two strokes behind co-halfway leader Mina Harigae.
But Lee bounced straight back with a birdie on the sixth followed by a flurry of four successive birdies from the ninth to the twelfth hole to take command.
“I’ve been pretty solid all day,” said Lee, the 2022 LPGA Tour point average leader and winner of her last stroke play tournament before this week.
“I made pars when I needed to.
“I made a bogey, but four birdies on the turn.
It was really good to get them started and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Lee overturned a seven-stroke deficit in the final round to grab his first major, the championship at Evian in France last July.
But she is in a very different position this time around in her quest to join Webb (2000 and 2001) and Jan Stephenson (1983) as the third Australian to win the US Women’s Open.
“It’s totally different. [At] the Evian, I was kind of in go mode, trying to birdie as much as I could, trying to catch up,” Lee said.
“I’m just going to be really focused tomorrow, take every shot as it comes and try to execute 100 per cent what I think.
“On the par five, I can be quite aggressive.”
Harigae’s round of 70 was enough to secure a place alongside Lee in Sunday’s final duo under 10.
England’s Bronte Law (68) is squarely third under 7, but six shots off the pace in what appears to be a two-way battle for the winner’s check of $1.8 million (2.5 million) – the biggest prize in women’s golf history.
New Zealand’s former world number one Lydia Ko shot the third round low, a 66 to move into a six-under tie for fourth at 6 under.
Current world number one Jin Young Ko (71), fellow Korean Hye-Jin Choi (71), three-time winner Anna Nordqvist (72), Swedish amateur Ingrid Lindblad (71) and China’s Xiyu Lin (67) are also 6- below.
They all have seven shots to make up on Lee, whom history favors to continue the job.
Webb converted their third-round lead into an eight-stroke triumph at Pine Needles 21 years ago, while Annika Sorenstam won by six after leading the field on Sunday at the famous course in 1996.