07 Jul 2023 | Professional golf |

Lee slips late in US Women’s Open defence

by Tony Webeck

Minjee Lee US Women's Open Round 1
Minjee Lee waves to fans after making birdie at the fourth hole in Round 1 of the US Women's Open at Pebble Beach.

West Australian Minjee Lee is four strokes off the lead following the opening round of her US Women’s Open defence at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California.

Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim and China’s Xiyu Lin share the lead after Round 1 with scores of 4-under 68 at the famous layout, Lee the best of the five-strong Aussie throng at even-par 72.

A commanding winner at Pine Needles a year ago, Lee set a strong early tone with birdies at the second and fourth holes.

The 27-year-old got up-and-down from the front of the par-5 second for her first birdie of the championship, adding a second at the short par-4 fourth when her 71-yard shot from the left rough finished just outside a foot from the hole.

That put her in a share of the lead, but only momentarily.

A three-putt at the par-5 sixth dropped her into a share of fourth, a birdie on 10 after hitting her approach shot from 175 yards to six feet moving her back into a tie for fourth.

A missed six-footer for par on the par-3 12th was her first step back, a bogey from seven feet at the par-4 16th dropping her to even par and a tie for 21st after 18 holes.

Playing in her second consecutive US Women’s Open, Sydney’s Grace Kim is the next best of the Aussies after a round of 2-over 74.

Unlike Lee, Kim began her championship from the 10th tee and saved her best for late in the round.

A double bogey at the par-4 16th saw Kim make the turn 2-over, a three-putt from the front of the par-4 first dropping her further down the leaderboard.

She was tied for 49th when she made another bogey at the par-3 fifth but got that back immediately with a birdie from five feet at the par-5 sixth.

The 22-year-old saved perhaps her best for one of the game’s most iconic holes, hitting her tee shot at the par-3 seventh to just four feet for a second straight birdie and momentum builder heading into Round 2.

Hannah Green (76) and Kiwi Lydia Ko are both tied for 84th as Gabriela Ruffels, amateur Maddison Hinson-Tolchard and New Zealander Amelia Garvey all posted six-over 78 on day one.

Round 1 scores T1 Xiyu Lin68 T1 Hyo Joo Kim 68 T21 Minjee Lee 72 T39 Grace Kim 74 T83 Lydia Ko (NZ) 76 T83 Hannah Green 76 T114 Amelia Garvey (NZ) 78 T114 Gabriela Ruffels78 T114 Maddison Hinson-Tolchard (a) 78

Round 2 tee times AEST 12.11am* Ayako Uehara, Amelia Garvey (NZ), Therese Warner 1.28am* Ayaka Furue, Hannah Green, Linn Grant 1.50am* Brooke Henderson, Rose Zhang, Lydia Ko (NZ) 5.45am Sadie Englemann (a), Gabriela Ruffels, Charlotte Thomas 5.56am Bronte Law, Grace Kim,Monet Chun (a) 7.02am* Minjee Lee, Saki Baba (a), Ashleigh Buhai 7.46am Albane Valenzuela, Momoko Ueda, Maddison Hinson-Tolchard (a)

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