03 Jun 2024 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Heartbreak for Lee at US Women's Open

by Tony Webeck

Minjee Lee US Women's Open
Minjee Lee's hopes of a third major unravelled during the final round of the US Women's Open. Photo: Chris Keane/USGA

Australian Minjee Lee has endured a horror back nine to let a third major championship slip through her fingers at the US Women’s Open.

Tied for the lead and playing in the final group at Lancaster Country Club, the two-time major champion was the leader by two after the first hole on Sunday.

Her birdie from just outside 10 feet and bogeys by 54-hole co-leaders Wichanee Meechai and Andrea Lee gave Lee a front-running position that she seemed destined to maintain.

When Andrea Lee made double-bogey on four and Meechai tripled the par-3 sixth after finding the penalty area with her tee shot, Minjee’s lead had grown to three strokes despite a three-putt bogey of her own on six.

Lee let a birdie chance slip by the right edge of the hole at the par-5 seventh yet would stand on the tee of the par-4 ninth three shots in front of the field at 4-under par.

A tee shot that found the fairway bunker led to a bogey on nine which would signify the beginning of the end.

Another three-putt on 10 saw Minjee fall into a tie for the lead with eventual champion Yuka Saso (68) at 2-under, but the tables would soon turn dramatically.

As Saso birdied the par-5 13th ahead, Minjee’s tee shot at the treacherous par-3 12th trickled back into the penalty area fronting the green, the double-bogey putting her three shots back in the blink of an eye.

It was a place from which she was unable to recover, making a second double-bogey on 14 followed by bogey on 15 for a final round of 8-over 78 and tie for ninth, seven shots back of Saso.

“I started good. Felt like I hit it pretty good; just missed a couple putts for birdie early and then I kind of blew up from there,” was Lee’s frank admission post-round.

“Obviously I’m going to acknowledge my disappointment and then come back stronger, take the positives out of the week.

“It’s a lot of pressure on the last day, so wasn’t my best performance but I’m sure there will be many better performances ahead.”

As Lee struggled, fellow West Australian Hannah Green matched the low round of the tournament, climbing into a tie for 16th with a 4-under 66 with Sarah Kemp and Gabriela Ruffels both even par for their final rounds.

Birdies at seven, nine and 11 generated the momentum that Green had been chasing all week, completing her climb up the leaderboard with birdies from five and three feet at 16 and 17.

“I feel like I gave myself better putts for birdie today, a lot more uphill putts, which was nice,” said Green.

“I felt like the first few rounds I had a lot of double breakers that had a couple feet of break. You can't be aggressive with those because your eye is just not used to seeing that.

“The game plan was pretty much the same the entire week, it was just the execution that was different today.”

It was a near miss, too, for Rod Pampling at the Principal Charity Classic on the PGA TOUR Champions.

Tied for the lead entering the final round at Wakonda Club in Des Mines, Pampling kept pace with Ernie Els on the front nine but the South African surged clear with two birdies and an eagle shortly after the turn, Pampling’s 3-under 69 good enough for a share of third.

Kirsten Rudgeley finished just two shots shy of the playoff as she grabbed a top-five finish at the Dormy Open Helsingborg on the Ladies European Tour while Kiwi Ryan Fox continued his strong form on the PGA TOUR with a tie for seventh at the RBC Canadian Open.

Results US Women’s Open Lancaster Country Club, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 1 Yuka Saso 68-71-69-68—276 $US2.4m T9 Minjee Lee 70-69-66-78—283 $271,732.67 T16 Hannah Green 76-71-72-66—285 $161,840.67 T29 Sarah Kemp 75-72-72-70—289 $68,873.14 T51 Gabriela Ruffels 75-73-75-70—293 $26,209 T58 Amelia Garvey (NZ) 76-71-74-73—294 $23,035.89 MC Lydia Ko (NZ) 80-73—153 MC Steph Kyriacou 77-76—153 MC Keeley Marx (a) 76-81—157

PGA TOUR RBC Canadian Open Hamilton Golf & Country Club, Hamilton, Ontario 1 Robert MacIntyre 64-66-66-68—264 T7 Ryan Fox (NZ) 66-64-70-70—270 T42 Adam Scott 70-69-70-69—278 MC Aaron Baddeley 77-71—148 MC Harrison Endycott 72-79—151

DP World Tour European Open Green Eagle Golf Courses, Hamburg, Germany 1 Laurie Canter 68-66-73-72—279 €392,765.45 T65 Daniel Hillier (NZ) 77-70-77-77—301 €5,660.44 MC Haydn Barron 77-71—148 MC Jason Scrivener 75-76—151 MC Sam Jones (NZ) 76-75—151 MC David Micheluzzi 74-78—152

Ladies European Tour Dormy Open Helsingborg Allerum Golf Club, Sweden 1 Perrine Delacour 68-70-67—205 €45,000 T5 Kirsten Rudgeley 69-71-67—207 €11,200 T64 Momoka Kobori (NZ) 75-70-74—219 €885 MC Amy Walsh 73-76—149

Korn Ferry Tour UNC Health Championship Raleigh Country Club, Raleigh, North Carolina 1 Kaito Onishi 68-69-69-66—272 $US180,000 T38 Rhein Gibson 72-70-66-73—281 $4,915 MC Brett Drewitt 71-72—143 MC Dimi Papadatos 66-77—143

PGA TOUR Champions Principal Charity Classic Wakonda Club, Des Moines, Iowa 1 Ernie Els 62-68-65—195 $US300,000 T3 Rod Pampling 65-65-69—199 T6 Vijay Singh (FI) 64-68-68—200 T8 Steven Alker (NZ) 67-68-66—201 T10 David Bransdon 68-68-66—202 T12 Stuart Appleby 68-69-66—203 T12 Steve Allan 69-66-68—203 T18 Michael Wright 67-70-68—205 T27 Richard Green 70-69-67—206 T32 Cameron Percy 66-69-72—207 T41 David McKenzie 70-70-68—208 T47 John Senden 70-69-70—209

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