Berliner Boersenzeitung - Aussie Lee grabs lead with 54-hole record at US Women's Open

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Aussie Lee grabs lead with 54-hole record at US Women's Open
Aussie Lee grabs lead with 54-hole record at US Women's Open / Photo: Jared C. Tilton - GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Aussie Lee grabs lead with 54-hole record at US Women's Open

Australia's Minjee Lee fired a four-under-par 67 to set a 54-hole scoring record and seize a three-stroke lead after Saturday's third round of the 77th US Women's Open.

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The 26-year-old from Perth answered a lone bogey with five birdies, four in a row starting at the ninth hole, to stand on 13-under 200 entering the final round at Pine Needles in Southern Pines, North Carolina.

"I was pretty solid all day," Lee said. "I was making pars when I needed to. I made a bogey but then made those birdies. It was nice to get those going and finish with all pars. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Lee's total broke the old 54-hole tournament mark set by American Juli Inkster in 1999 at Old Waverly and made her the player to catch on Sunday for the record $1.8 million top prize.

"A three-shot lead is a nice cushion but it's not enough to let your heart calm down," Lee said. "I'm going to be really focused tomorrow, try and stay calm and concentrate on every shot I'm making."

American Mina Harigae shot 70 to stand second on 203 with England's Bronte Law third on 206 after a 68.

"I'm just proud of myself for hanging around, hanging in there," Harigae said. "If I just play like I did the first couple days, get a couple more putts to drop and be patient with myself, I'll have a good outcome."

A pack on 207 including Aussie Lydia Ko, China's Lin Xiyu, Swedes Ingrid Lindblad and Anna Nordqvist and South Koreans Ko Jin-young, the world number one, and Choi Hye-jin.

Fourth-ranked Lee, a seven-time LPGA Tour winner, captured her only major title at last year's Evian Championship in France.

Lee hopes to emulate Aussie mentor Karrie Webb, who won a US Women's Open title at Pine Needles in 2001.

"She texted me yesterday," Lee said. "She said, 'Keep it going, let's go Aussie.'"

Lee made bogey at the par-3 fifth hole while Harigae birdied to seize a two-stroke edge. But Lee answered with a birdie at the sixth and then reeled off her birdie run starting at the end of the front nine.

"On the par-5s, I can be pretty aggressive and some other holes you have wedges in and can be pretty aggressive," Lee said.

Harigae, whose first-round 64 was one off the US Women's Open record, seeks her first LPGA title and first top-10 finish in a major.

The best final-round comeback by a US Women's Open winner has been five strokes, so all those aside from Harigae will try to make a historic fightback for the title.

Prime among them is Law, who shook off two early bogeys with a birdie at the par-5 10th and birdies on three of the last five holes.

"I stayed patient," Law said. "Had a couple early bogeys but I didn't let it get to me. I knew if I stayed patient those chances would come on the back nine and they did. Pretty pleased."

(S.G.Stein--BBZ)