Minjee Lee’s Bounce-back Offers Hope

Minjee Lee – file photo courtesy of LET

Through four holes of her opening round of the AIG Women’s Open at Royal Troon in Scotland, Australia’s Minjee Lee could have been forgiven for asking just what on earth was going on.

Having played very well in recent weeks she appeared to be building towards a special performance in this the first female major championship of the year but with two bogeys and a double in her opening six holes on Thursday, her hopes of a best ever major championship finish appeared to be fading.

She would, however, play her next 30 holes in a very impressive 3 under par and now, following her second round of 2 under par 69, she stands at 1 over for the tournament and tied in 4th place and just two from the lead held by Dani Holmqvist.

Again she began slowly on day two, with bogeys at her opening two holes but she put together four birdies and no bogeys over the remaining 16 holes, including consecutive birdies at the 17th and 18th, to be nicely placed heading into the weekend.

Lee was a bit more ready for the conditions today as the opening day’s blustery, cool and damp weather came as a bit of a surprise. Conditions did not improve today but the 24 year old was ready for them and although she made a shaky start she played the remaining holes better then anyone in the field.

“I wasn’t really expecting the severity of the winds (yesterday), and even the practice rounds last week it wasn’t very windy. Once the wind hit me, I was like, oh, it was very tough.

Then today, I think I sort of expected like how much wind there was going to be and sort of adjusted a little bit better to the wind that we had.

“I haven’t really seen the forecast for tomorrow or the weekend but I’m sure it’s going to be windy. I think just at this point in time, I think can’t really think too far ahead. Just stay in the moment. Stay patient with the wind.”

Perhaps the highlight of her round came at the 11th when she chipped in from off the green but her closing two birdies have given her perfect momentum heading into the weekend.

Lee is one of only three players along with Inbee Park and Amy Olson to have broken 70 in the opening 36 holes reflecting the demands of the windswept layout and the quality of Lee’s play.

Lee is tied in 4th place with New Zealander, Lydia Ko, who continues her improvement from the indifferent form she has displayed over the past eigtheen months or so.

Now working with former Tiger Woods coach Sean Foley Ko appears to be getting back to her best with one or two good finishes of late.

“I feel like every competitive round I get in, there’s a bit more confidence that builds in,” said Ko. “It’s like the saying where, you know, just even like an 18-handicapper, you know, that one shot brings me back up for tomorrow; and I really think it’s the same for me, too; that one good shot that you feel, that that’s the shot I want to emulate on the next hole or tomorrow.

“The more times I put myself in contention or in a good position it gives me confidence about my game. Sean has been trying to get me to swing aggressively and freely and I feel like I hit it better that way.

“Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but you know, I’ve just got to go out there and not worry about it and just believe in myself.”

Sweden’s Holmqvist leads by one over American Austin Ernst and Spain’s Sophia Popov with another shot back to those tied in 4th place.

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