09 Jul 2023 | Professional golf |

Lee chasing more history at US Women’s Open

by Tony Webeck

Minjee Lee lines up a putt in Round 3 of the US Women's Open
Minjee Lee will start the final round of her US Women's Open defence eight shots off the lead. Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

West Australian Minjee Lee will need to break her own major championship record to complete a successful defence of her US Women’s Open crown at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

The 27-year-old will begin the final round in a tie for ninth and eight strokes back of Japan’s Nasa Hataoka (66), her world-class iron play coming to the fore as her putter faltered in a round of even-par 72.

Only Hataoka went lower in Round 3 than Gabriela Ruffels, the Victorian continuing her love affair with major championships with a round of 2-under 70 to move into a share of 14th. Sydney’s Grace Kim also made a positive move up the leaderboard with a round of 1-under 71, Hannah Green falling into a tie for 45th with a 4-over 76 in windy conditions on Saturday.

No player has come from more than five strokes back to win the US Women’s Open although amateur Barbara McIntire did come from eight strokes back in 1956 before losing in a playoff to Kathy Cornelius.

Lee will need to better that to win a third major championship but can call upon her own experience two years ago as inspiration.

She began the final round of the Evian Championship seven strokes off the lead yet forced a playoff with Korea’s Jeongeun Lee6 and sealed her breakthrough major at the first playoff hole.

Jiyai Shin and Hyo Joo Kim are the only players ahead of Lee to have won a major championship and, given the challenge posed by Pebble Beach this week, it is not inconceivable that an eight-stroke deficit can be reeled in.

Particularly given Lee is paired with the hottest new player on tour, Rose Zhang.

Round 3 scores 1 Nasa Hataoka 69-74-66—209 T9 Minjee Lee 72-73-72—217 T14 Gabriela Ruffels 78-71-70—219 T29 Grace Kim 74-76-71—221 T29 Lydia Ko (NZ) 76-71-74—221 T45 Hannah Green 76-71-76—223 MC Amelia Garvey (NZ) 78-75—153 MC Maddison Hinson-Tolchard (a) 78-80—158

Round 4 tee times AEST 2am Gemma Dryburgh, Hannah Green 3.13am Patty Tavatanakit, Lydia Ko (NZ) 3.35am Minji Park, Grace Kim 5.14am Gabriela Ruffels, Leona Maguire 5.36am Rose Zhang, Minjee Lee

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