27 Jul 2023 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Lee’s fresh challenge at Evian

by Tony Webeck

Minjee Lee Amundi Evian Championship
Minjee Lee expects a new challenge at this week's Amundi Evian Championship. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Minjee Lee is back at the pristine scene of one of her greatest days – her blistering finish to come from seven shots back and win her first major in France two years ago – but she sees the Amundi Evian Championship this week as a “different challenge”.

That’s because the wind has been up around the Evian Resort Golf Club near Evian-les-Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva, and recent rains have left the course soft and the rough gnarly.

“The greens are rolling really nice,” Lee told lpga.com today. “The rough is up, which will be a bit of a challenge for us.”

Asked for the keys to playing well at Evian, the Australian said: “Definitely keeping it on the fairway. Some of the tee shots are quite tight. Your drives and your woods off the tee will be important this week, and obviously if you putt well, it’s going to help.”

Lee is a two-time major winner after her 2022 US Women’s Open triumph and in truth, has had trouble coming back to her best form since what could yet amount to her best-ever victory in July last year.

She has not won since which amounts to a drought by her own incredibly high standards, and at least some of that can be attributed to issues on the putting green in 2023.

She ranks 30th in putts per green in regulation on tour, and 125th in putting average. While the second number is not a statistic that she will ever be prominent in – since it skews against great ball-strikers – her work with the short stick has been a considerable concern, especially in close.

“I’m always working on something,” she said. “I’ve been working on my putting a little bit, probably more than my ball-striking which has been pretty solid. Hopefully I can get my putter hot this week.”

World No.7 Lee finds herself in a marquee group for Round 1 with Nelly Korda and Rose Zhang, teeing off at 4.27pm Thursday AEST.

She hopes that the memories come flooding back for her.

“Obviously I was out on the golf course (today), and I was thinking about what I was doing here and there when I won, but it’s different conditions. It’s a little windier. I think it’s a different challenge than when I won, a different experience but I’m ready for a good week.”

The Perth superstar is one of six Australians chasing a major in France this week, with the season’s final major – the AIG Women’s Open in the UK – just a fortnight away as well.

Meanwhile a bunch of Australians will be over at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in Wales trying their luck at the Senior Open Championship from Thursday.

Among that group David McKenzie will have a strong sense of déjà vu; he finished tied-ninth when the Open was held at Porthcawl in 2017.

On the PGA TOUR, Cam Davis has a big couple of weeks ensuing. The Sydneysider is playing the 3M Open in Minnesota with an eye on the Fedex Cup standings.

With just two tournaments left, he needs to play well to get himself into the season-ending playoffs which begin at FedEx St Jude Championship.

Currently ranked 77th, Davis needs to jump inside the top 70 to qualify for the big-money events at the end of the season.

Joining Davis at TPC Twin Cities is fellow Sydneysider Daniel Gale, who played his way into the field in extraordinary fashion at the Monday qualifier at Victory Links Golf Club.

Endeavouring to qualify for the second straight year, Gale slam-dunked a wedge for eagle on the final hole for a back nine of 8-under 28 and course record 11-under 60, five strokes clear of the next best score.

After qualifying for last year’s tournament Gale missed the cut with rounds of 74-74.

West Australian also played his way into a tournament this week, coming through Monday qualifying for the Irish Challenge at Headfort Golf Club on the Challenge Tour.

Round 1 tee times AEST

PGA TOUR 3M Open TPC Twin Cities, Blaine, Minnesota 10.07pm* Adam Hadwin, Patrick Rodgers, Ryan Fox (NZ) 10.51pm* Nico Echavarria, Cam Davis, Jim Herman 11.24pm* Aaron Baddeley, Chesson Hadley, Callum Tarren 3.21am* Cameron Percy, Eric Cole, Dylan Wu 3.32am Nate Lashley, CT Pan, Harrison Endycott 5.22am* Nicolai Hojgaard, Daniel Gale, Preston Summerhays

Defending champion: Tony Finau Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: Live 10.30pm-9am Thursday, Friday; Live 3am-8am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

LPGA Tour Amundi Evian Championship Evian Resort Golf Club, Evian-les-Bains, France 3.51pm Hannah Green, Cheyenne Knight, Amy Yang 4.27pm* Nelly Korda, Minjee Lee, Rose Zhang 4.51pm* Sarah Kemp, Valentina Rossi (a), Miyu Yamashita 8.15pm Manon De Roey, Stephanie Kyriacou, Ana Pelaez Trivino 9.03pm Eun-Hee Ji, Ariya Jutanugarn, Grace Kim 9.03pm* In Gee Chun, Nasa Hataoka, Lydia Ko (NZ) 10.15pm Karis Davidson, Caroline Inglis, Jeongeun Lee6

Defending champion: Brooke Henderson Past Aussie winners: Rachel Hetherington (2001), Wendy Doolan (2004), Karrie Webb (2006), Minjee Lee (2021) TV times: Live 7pm-10pm Thursday on Fox Sports 503, Live 11.30pm-2.30am Thursday on Fox Sports 506; Live 7pm-10pm Friday on Fox Sports 503, Live 11.30pm-2am Friday on Fox Sports 507; Live 10pm-1am Saturday on Fox Sports 503; Live 7.30pm-1am Sunday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

Champions Tour The Senior Open Championship Royal Porthcawl Golf Club, Bridgend, Wales 5.30pm Tom Gillis, Euan McIntosh, Jason Norris 6pm Neil Thompson, Rob Labritz, Michael Long (NZ) 6.10pm Fraser Mann, Peter O’Malley, Richard Tinworth 8pm Stuart Appleby, Ken Duke, Arjun Atwal 8.50pm Jose Manuel Carriles, Rusty Strawn, David McKenzie 10pm Brent Paterson (NZ), Peter Wilson, Carlos Franco 10.30pm Peter Fowler, Andrew Oldcorn, Thomas Levet 11.20pm Richard Green, Chris Di Marco, Michael Campbell (NZ) 11.50pm Bernhard Langer, Paul Lawrie, Steven Alker (NZ) 12.10am Phillip Price, Vijay Singh, Rod Pampling 12.50am Doug McGuigan, Philip Golding, John Senden

Defending champion: Darren Clarke Past Aussie winners: TV times: Live 9pm-11.30pm Thursday on Fox Sports 506; Live 1.30am-4am Friday on Fox Sports 507; Live 9pm-11.30pm Friday on Fox Sports 507; Live 11pm-4.30am Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo.

Japan Golf Tour Japan Professional Golf Championship Eniwa Country Club, Hokkaido 8.05am Taichi Nabetani, Anthony Quayle, Daisuke Yamada 8.45am Toshiya Takeyasu, Brad Kennedy, Kim Hyung Sung 12.45pm Katsumasa Miyamoto, Yuki Usami, Adam Bland

Defending champion: Miraimu Horikawa Past Aussie winners: Adam Bland (2015)

Korn Ferry Tour NV5 Invitational The Glen Club, Glenview, Illinois 10.03pm Rhein Gibson, Brett Drewitt, Roger Sloan 2.50am* Curtis Luck, Jacob Bergeron, Jeff Overton 3.01am* Brandon Harkins, Jonas Blixt, Dimi Papadatos

Defending champion: Harry Hall Past Aussie winners: Nil

Challenge Tour Irish Challenge Headfort Golf Club, Kells, Ireland 6pm* Steven Brown, Hayden Hopewell, Ruaidhri McGee 7.30pm* Ryan Ruffels, Mattia Comotti, Owen Benson 10.50pm* Romain Wattel, Sam Locke, Jordan Zunic

Defending champion: Todd Clements Past Aussie winners: Nil

PGA TOUR Canada Osprey Valley Open TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley (Heathlands Cse), Caledon, Ontario 10.50pm* Jason Hong, Clay Feagler, Blain Turner 3.10am* Gunn Yang, Tommy Kuhl, Cory Crawford 4.30am Brian Carlson, Noah Steele, Jack Trent

Defending champion: Danny Walker Past Aussie winners: Nil

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