Minjee Lee, Mina Harigae share halfway lead in US Women’s Open

Minjee Lee, Mina Harigae share halfway lead in US Women’s Open

Minjee Lee, Mina Harigae share halfway lead in US Women’s Open

Mina Harigae (L), Minjee Lee (R) (Credits: AFP)

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  • Minjee Lee and Mina Harigae share the 36-hole lead at the US Women’s Open.
  • Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and South Korea’s Choi Hye-jin are two strokes back.
  • Lee won the Evian Championship last year and is ranked fourth in the world.
  • Japan’s Misaki Harigae shot a four-under-par 68 to move into contention at the Women’s US Women’s Open.
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  • Ko Jin-young of South Korea and Ingrid Lindblad of Sweden tied for fifth place at six-under 136.

Minjee Lee, ranked fourth in the world, shot a five-under-par 66 on Friday to share the 36-hole lead with Mina Harigae in the 77th US Women’s Open in North Carolina.

Lee, who won the Evian Championship last year, scored four of her six birdies on the front nine and responded from her lone bogey at 14 with birdies at 15 and 16 to match Harigae at Pine Needles at Southern Pines on nine-under-par 133.

Read more: Top-seed Minjee Lee defeated by Mason, exits LPGA Match-Day

Harigae’s first-round score of 64 was one stroke shy of the US Women’s Open record. Her second round score of 69 includes five birdies and two bogeys.

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Two strokes separated them from Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and South Korea’s Choi Hye-jin. Nordqvist’s three-under-par 68 included four birdies, whilst Choi’s seven-under-par 64 contained nine birdies and sent her to the top of the leaderboard.

Lee stated that putting was once again crucial to her round. She sank lengthy birdie putts on the first, eighth, and ninth holes, as well as a four-footer on the second, to turn at eight-under, one stroke below Harigae’s early target.

“My putting was pretty solid today, and even when I was in kind of tough spots I was able to get up and down,” said Lee, who won the LPGA Founders Cup last month for her seventh LPGA title and her first since her Evian triumph.

“I just tried to take advantage of my birdie opportunities and that’s pretty much what I did today.”

Lee said her approach on the weekend would be “pretty much the same as the first two days.”

She stated that regardless of how the light rain that began falling late in the day might affect the course, she would “just take what’s in front of me and take it one step at a time, because this golf course can catch up with you very quickly.”

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Read more: Ko Jin-young roars to LPGA Tour Championship title, Player of Year

Thursday’s round was “a little shaky” compared to today’s, according to Harigae.

“A little more stressful today for sure, and things got a little shaky there, but I was really happy with the way I hung in there and made some good birdies coming in,” said the 32-year-old from California, whose parents are from Japan.

Harigae, who is seeking her first LPGA win and top-10 result in a major, believes she now possesses the maturity to contend on the weekend.

“Today, even when things weren’t going great, I was really able to keep myself calm and just try to be really level-headed out there,” she said.

 

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The previous year, she led the Women’s British Open at Carnoustie, ultimately ending in a tie for the thirteenth.

“Since then, I have the better tools to navigate these new experiences,” Harigae said. “I think just trying to be calm, just go about my day.”

Ko Jin-young of South Korea and Ingrid Lindblad of Sweden tied for fifth place at six-under 136.

Ko shot a four-under 67, which featured an eagle on the par-five 15th hole.

Lindblad, whose opening 65 was a tournament record for an amateur, stayed in contention with a 71 that contained three birdies and three bogeys.

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Read more: Ji Eun-hee makes her way to semifinals of the LPGA

“I was just trying to do the same thing,” Lindblad said. “I know I made a lot of putts yesterday. I was a little bit further away from the pin today.”

Lindblad competed alongside Annika Sorenstam, the 1996 US Women’s Open champion, on the same course. Sorenstam failed to make the cut with a 13-over-par score.

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