08 Jul 2023 | Professional golf |

Lee within reach at US Women's Open

by Tony Webeck

Minjee Lee makes birdie at 18 in Round 2 of US Women's Open
Minjee Lee thanks fans after making birdie at the par-5 18th during Round 2 of the US Women's Open at Pebble Beach.

Defending champion Minjee Lee has maintained touch with the top of the leaderboard despite a late double-bogey in Round 2 of the US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach.

Four of the five Australians in the field will play two further rounds along the California coastline with Lee (73), Hannah Green (71), Gabriela Ruffels (71) and Grace Kim (76) all surviving the cut-line which fell at 6-over par, American Bailey Tardy (68) leading by two at 7-under par.

Lee was one of only seven players under par for the championship as she played her final hole – the par-4 ninth – but faltered late.

The 27-year-old was forced to take a penalty drop when her tee shot dribbled off the edge of the cliff right of the fairway but gave herself a chance to save par when her approach shot finished 23 feet behind the hole.

That downhill putt carried six feet past and when Lee missed the one coming back she went from 1-under to 1-over and from a tie for fifth to a share of 11th.

It was a disappointing way to sign off on a round of 1-over 73 that promised so much as she made the turn.

Two-over after bogeys at 12 and 13, Lee produced one of the shots of the tournament at the par-4 16th.

A 246-yard tee shot that travelled only a foot or so into the intermediate rough left of the fairway left Lee with 141 yards to the flag.

One of golf’s premier iron players drew her three-quarter 9-iron around a tree into the middle of the green, the ball releasing and rolling into the cup for an eagle that got her back on level terms.

A birdie at the iconic par-5 18th when she hit a wedge to a foot moved her into red figures and eyeing off a successful title defence.

A bogey at the par-4 fourth was offset by a birdie at the par-5 sixth only for her three-putt on the final hole to take her from the front page of the leaderboard.

Although disappointed with how she finished, Lee sees an opportunity to apply some pressure with a good round on Saturday.

“I feel like I’m probably in a pretty good position right now,” Lee reasoned.

“I can be maybe a little bit more aggressive and, you know, maybe put up a score earlier than the girls. Maybe it won't be as windy. Then see where I am after that.

“Playing late in the day was actually really hard. We waited like 30 minutes on the eighth tee, and the last two holes was really tough, just having to have waited and then have to play in the cold.

“It was just a tough test.”

Green and Ruffels were two of just 12 players to play the second round under par to ensure they would advance to the weekend.

Three birdies in her final seven holes moved Green into a tie for 26th through 36 holes, Ruffels making birdie at six and nine and then nine straight pars to stay one shot inside the cut-line at 5-over.

Following a bogey on 17 Grace Kim required a par at the last to earn two further rounds, two-putting from 32 feet to book her spot for the weekend.

Eighteen wasn’t quite so kind to West Australian amateur Maddison Hinson-Tolchard who found the water with her second shot yet made a 16-footer for double-bogey in her round of 8-over 80.

It was an emotional farewell for two of the icons of golf as former winners Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie West both missed the cut in their final US Women’s Open.

Round 2 scores 1 Bailey Tardy 69-68—137 T11 Minjee Lee 72-73—145 T26 Hannah Green 76-71—147 T26 Lydia Ko (NZ) 76-71—147 T47 Gabriela Ruffels78-71—149 T58 Grace Kim 74-76—150 MC Amelia Garvey (NZ) 78-75—153 MC Maddison Hinson-Tolchard (a) 78-80—158

Round 3 tee times AEST 12.44am Miyu Sato, Grace Kim 2.12am Gabriela Ruffels, So Mi Lee 3.51am Lydia Ko (NZ), Mao Saigo 4.02am Hannah Green, Andrea Lee 4.57am Charley Hull, Minjee Lee

Photograph: James Gilbert/USGA

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