23 Aug 2021 | Professional golf |

Lee's Open charge falls short

by PGA of Australia

Minjee Lee Open day 4 image
Minjee Lee celebrates her birdie at 16 as she hits the lead in the AIG Women's Open. Photo: Getty

By Tony Webeck

Minjee Lee’s charge towards a second consecutive major championship has fallen just short, brought undone in part by Carnoustie’s infamous 18th hole at the AIG Women’s Open in Scotland.

When she began her final round Lee was five strokes from the top of the leaderboard, a deficit not beyond someone who came from seven shots back to win the Evian Championship in France just three weeks ago.

The West Australian’s assignment had been reduced to just three shots following birdies at the first and third holes and when she added two more at six and seven Lee loomed as a genuine contender.

Although unable to take advantage of either of the par 5s on the back nine the 25-year-old continued to advance with birdies at 11 and 13 and then took sole possession of the lead with a birdie at the par-three 16th.

A long-range birdie attempt at 17 came up two feet short and when eventual champion Anna Nordqvist (69) rolled in a 15-footer at nine to move to 12-under Lee stood on the 72nd hole trailing by one.

After an excellent drive down the right side of the fairway Lee’s hopes looked to have sunk for good when her chunked approach shot into Carnoustie’s 18th plunged into the famed Barry Burn short of the green, only to see the ball miraculously pop out onto the other side.

A pitch shot to five feet gave Lee the chance to save par but her putt missed to the right, her first bogey in a round of 6-under 66 giving her the clubhouse lead at 10-under par.

It was a mark that stood for an hour until England’s Georgia Hall completed her round of five-under 67 to post 11 under but it was Nordqvist who would par the final four holes to finish at 12 under and claim the third major championship of her career, one shot clear of Hall, Lizette Salas (69) and Madelene Sagstrom (68).

“I didn't really feel too much pressure or anything,” said Lee, who finished tied for fifth, her second consecutive top-five finish in the Women’s Open after she was third in 2020.

“I was five shots off the lead so I just tried to play as aggressively as I could, given the conditions and the pin placements.

“I looked at (the leaderboard) on 10. And then I knew I was kind of close, so I just tried to make birdie on 11.

“I tried to make as many birdies as I could today and I finished with 6-under, so I'm pretty happy. That’s a great score around here.”

Lee wasn’t the only Aussie to get a view from the top of the leaderboard on day four and, like Lee, it was the 18th hole that brought Sydney’s Stephanie Kyriacou (69) undone.

Peeling off four birdies in her opening six holes, when Kyriacou added an eagle at the par-five 12th she joined the leaders at nine under. A bogey at the par-five 14th stalled her charge and Kyriacou’s championship suffered an unfortunate end when the 20-year-old’s approach shot trickled out of bounds to the left of the 18th green and she made double bogey to finish tied for 13th, her best finish in a major.

Su Oh’s hopes were dashed when she made a triple bogey at the par-five sixth in a front nine of five-over 41, the Victorian falling into a tie for 34th with a closing three-over 75.

Sunday proved to be a wild ride for West Australian Hannah Green, whose round of four-over 76 included five birdies, five bogeys, two double bogeys and just the six pars to earn a share of 48th position. Final Scores AIG Women’s Open Winner Anna Nordqvist 71-71-65-69—276 $US870,000 T5 Minjee Lee 71-69-72-66—278 $219,787 T13 Stephanie Kyriacou 72-70-71-69—282 $85,328 T29 Lydia Ko 72-71-72-71—286 $44,992 T34 Su Oh 71-69-71-76—287 $36,442 T48 Hannah Green 73-70-71-76—290 $21,491 MC Whitney Hillier 73-74—147 MC Katherine Kirk 72-78—150 MC Sarah Kemp 78-76—154

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