Back-nine blues see Minjee blow US Women’s Open chance

3rd Jun 2024

Minjee Lee 2024 US Women's Open

Perth’s Minjee Lee has endured a horror back nine to let a third major championship slip through her fingers at the US Women’s Open.

Tied for the lead and playing in the final group at Lancaster Country Club, WA’s two-time major champion was the leader by two after the first hole on Sunday.

Her birdie from just outside 10 feet and bogeys by 54-hole co-leaders Wichanee Meechai and Andrea Lee gave Minjee a front-running position that she seemed destined to maintain.

When Andrea Lee made double-bogey on four and Meechai tripled the par-3 sixth after finding the penalty area with her tee shot, Minjee’s lead had grown to three strokes – a lead she still held when arriving on the tee at the par-4 ninth.

However, a tee shot that found the fairway bunker led to a bogey on nine would signify the beginning of the end. Another three-putt on 10 saw Minjee fall into a tie for the lead with eventual champion Yuka Saso at 2-under, but the tables would soon turn dramatically.

As Saso birdied the par-5 13th ahead, Minjee’s tee shot at the treacherous par-3 12th trickled back into the penalty area fronting the green, the double-bogey putting her three shots back in the blink of an eye.

It was a place from which she was unable to recover, making a second double-bogey on 14 and a bogey on 15 for an eight-over-par final round of 78 and tie for ninth, seven shots back of Saso.

“I started good. Felt like I hit it pretty good; just missed a couple putts for birdie early and then I kind of blew up from there,” was Minjee’s frank admission post-round.

“I’m going to acknowledge my disappointment and then come back stronger, take the positives out of the week. It’s a lot of pressure on the last day, so wasn’t my best performance but I’m sure there will be many better performances ahead.”

Hannah Green 2024 US Women's Open

Hannah Green improved throughout the week on her way to a T16th finish

As Minjee struggled, fellow Western Australian Hannah Green matched the low round of the tournament, climbing into T16th with a four-under 66.

Birdies at seven, nine and 11 generated the momentum that Green had been chasing all week, completing her climb up the leaderboard with birdies from five and three feet at 16 and 17.

“I feel like I gave myself better putts for birdie today, a lot more uphill putts, which was nice,” said Green. “The game plan was pretty much the same the entire week, it was just the execution that was different today.”

View the final leaderboard here.

A version of this article first appeared on the Golf Australia website.

Images: Getty Images