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M. Lee eagles 7th, in 3-way tie at Women’s Open

By admin Jun6,2024

  • Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff WriterJun 1, 2024, 06:49 PM ET

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    • Previously covered Florida State for Orlando Sentinel and Georgia Tech for Macon Telegraph
    • Northwestern University graduate

LANCASTER, Pa. — With the biggest name on the LPGA Tour spending the rest of her weekend away from Lancaster Country Club, a thrilling finish is nonetheless brewing entering the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open.

No Nelly Korda? No problem.

It just means more Wichanee Meechai, Minjee Lee and, after her 3-stroke surge Saturday, more Andrea Lee, too. After trading birdies and bogeys along the back nine, the trio sits tied atop the leaderboard at minus-5 overall with 18 holes to go in the major championship.

“Michelle Wie West texted me [Friday] night and she told me just whatever the outcome is, just put your 100% effort into it,” Andrea Lee said, referring to the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open champion. “I really took that to heart.

“I just tried to have fun out there and just play the golf course and not try to play against the field. Just me and the golf course.”

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Although Andrea Lee’s third-round 67 didn’t seem to prove it, the course has been its own opponent of sorts this week.

Two days before play began, Korda — the world No. 1 who has won six of the nine events she has entered this season — called it “a beast.”

For her, it was a menace. Korda joined several other golfers ranked in the top 20 who missed the cut. Most of them attributed their struggles to the hilly fairways, unforgiving water hazards and sloping greens that are hallmarks of Lancaster Country Club.

Early in her third round, though, Minjee Lee tamed one of the most challenging holes, the par 5 at No. 7. After a succession of booming shots off the tee and fairway, she buried an eagle putt that drew loud, approving roars from the crowd that echoed throughout the course.

“The tee was up,” Minjee Lee said of the 470-yard hole. “Hit driver, hit 6-iron, pulled it a little bit, hit the rough, got an amazing kick to the right and just rolled all the way to the pin about 1 foot.”

After beginning the afternoon at 2-under, Minjee Lee’s eagle closed a gap with Meechai, who entered the day with a 2-stroke lead on the field.

“Obviously I wanted to have a good score on Round 3, moving day,” Minjee Lee said. “I tried to just keep it pretty calm, and I just tried to be patient out there.

“I feel like my game has been trending, week to week. It’s been getting better and better in all aspects of my game. I feel like it has been coming together for the moment I am in right now.”

The 2022 U.S. Women’s Open champion, Minjee Lee is pushing for her second win at the tournament and her third overall major victory.

Along with the early eagle, she added a birdie on No. 16, sinking a curving, 17-foot putt to drop her to minus-5 overall. Andrea Lee also birdied the hole, setting up the three-way tie that carries into Sunday.

Had it not been for a narrowly missed birdie attempt on No. 16 and another on No. 18 that completely rolled around the top of the cup before lipping out, Minjee Lee might have snuck into first place to close out the round.

To her credit, Meechai parred six of her holes on the back nine to keep at the front of the pack.

“I never think that I’m going to be on the leaderboard or something like that, but it’s great,” Meechai said. “It feels really good.”

Meechai is competing in her fourth U.S. Women’s Open. Before this year, she had never finished any higher than 30th at the tournament. Although she has been a professional since 2010, Meechai, from Thailand, has never won in the United States. Her five total victories have come in pro events in Thailand, China and Taiwan.

“My focus on the game [was] pretty good,” Meechai said of her third round. “I hit a lot of bad shots, but I don’t have any bad thoughts about my swing or about the result at all. I’m just staying in my zone and trying to keep going and then be patient.”

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