A day after her worst, Minjee Lee bounced back brilliantly to record her best US Open score on Sunday in a belated charge to a share of 11th.
The Perth ace drilled seven birdies at Bedminster, New Jersey, to shoot the day’s best round – a six-under-par 66 and vault to four under.
The irony was not lost on Lee, whose 77 a day earlier cost her any chance of the year’s third major, won by Sung Hyun Park in dramatic circumstances at 11 under.
“I just wanted to have a good day. I hit it better, I hit more fairways and I hit more greens,” Lee said.
“I just came out and thought, let’s just finish with a good day at a US Open.”
— LPGA (@LPGA) July 16, 2017
Lee’s finish is the latest in a solid season for the three-time LPGA Tour winner, who has six top-10s in 2017, and remains confident her first major victory is near.
“Obviously I am hitting it good and I am putting it good,” Lee said.
“We have the British Open and the Evian, two majors left. Hopefully, I can have good results there. I’m just going to do the same and hope for the best.”
Lee’s round was in stark contrast to the other three Aussie women who made the cut.
Karrie Webb closed with a 76 to finish T44 at six over; Katherine Kirk closed with a flat 78 to finish T48 at seven over; and Su Oh carded a 77 to finish T56 at 10 over.
But the day belonged to Park, who fought off a spirited challenge from China’s Shanshan Feng and a swag of her Korean compatriots – including amateur prodigy Hye-jin Choi – to win her first major crown.
Park, remarkably, was even overall through nine holes of her third round, yet poured in 12 birdies in the ensuing 27 holes to storm to victory.
Rookie Sung Hyun Park captures first win at the #USWomensOpen
— LPGA (@LPGA) July 16, 2017
The golfing world, though, was awoken to news that won’t surprise Australian fans with Choi at one point leading by two strokes before she drowned her tee shot on the par-three 16th, the resultant double-bogey the eventual margin behind Park.
Frenchwoman Catherine Lacoste (1967) remains the only amateur to have won arguably women’s golf’s most prized crown.
Choi, the reigning Australian Amateur champion, was also the low amateur at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide in February.
If she doesn’t overtake Ireland’s Leona Maguire at the top of the world amateur rankings, Choi will be perilously close and near her last stated remaining goal before turning professional.
Remarkably, eight of the top 10 players on the final leaderboard were Korean, including world number one So Yeon Ryu who’ll extend her buffer at the top of the rankings.
Feng, the overnight leader, fell back to six under and a share of fifth with a triple-bogey eight on the closing hole. She and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda (also -6) were the only non-Koreans in the top 10.
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