The winner Anna Nordqvist – photo Warren Little R&A via Getty Images
Minjee Lee made a valiant bid to add a second consecutive major title to her resumé when a final round of 66 left her two short of the winner Anna Nordqvist at the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie.
Just as she had when winning the Evian Championship a few weeks ago, Lee began the day well behind (five shots) the leader, Nanna Koertz Madsen, and by the time she reached the 18th she needed a birdie to tie the then lead.
Her drive was just short of the right-hand fairway bunker but given the quality of her play to that point her approach was a shock, landing short of the famous burn that caused Jean van de Velde so much grief in 1999, then bouncing into and then out to finish a yard or two on the greenside of the water.
It was clear, even at that stage with still so many players on the golf course, that a par was the absolute worst score she could record if she was to harbour any hopes of victory and after she pitched to 8 feet the door was still open.
Unfortunately for Lee, she would miss the putt for a final round of 66 and a total of 10 under.
It had been a brilliant attempt to come from the clouds however and she would eventually finish in a share of 5th place and just two from the winner and secure yet another big cheque (US219,000)in this most lucrative of LPGA Tour events.
“I didn’t really feel too much pressure or anything,” said Lee. “I was five shots off the lead, so I just tried to play as aggressively as I could, given the conditions and the pin placements. Just try to hit one shot at a time and just try to hit each shot, like commit to each shot. That’s pretty much what I did, and had 6-under today, which is a great score around here.
“I got off to a really fast start, two birdies in the first three holes. So, I just tried to take as much advantage as I could with the short irons in and short putts. So yeah, I think I finished really strong, and on the par 3s, so pretty solid day.”
New South Wales’ Stephanie Kyriacou further highlighted her extraordinary potential with a round of 69 to finish in a share of 13th and receive a cheque for US$85,000 her biggest in her still young professional career.
Kyriacou’s double bogey at the last will have hurt but she can be happy with her such a good finish in just her third major event and her great week now moves her to 2nd place in the Ladies European Tour standings for this season.
Of the other Australasians, Lydia Ko was 29th, Su Oh 34th after a horror final round of 76 and Hannah Green 48th.
The winner Nordqvist won her third major title having won the Women’s PGA Championship in 2009 and the Evian Championship in 2017.
Twelve months ago Nordqvist married a local Scottish footballer so her already popular win was made all the more so because of the strong ties she now has with the region in which the event was played.
“Yeah, it’s been a long time, said the Swede referring to her two-year drought of victories. “I had a good opportunity last year to win and didn’t pull through. You question whether it’s going to happen or to the again but knowing it’s the British Open, it’s been worth the wait.
“Me and my caddie, Paul, were chatting with Nanna was putting. It just seemed so unreal and just to have a little tap-in for the win, like I couldn’t ask for anything better. Just to share the experience with him and knowing how hard he’s worked, and keeping patient all these years, yeah, it’s such a great experience sharing that with close friends and family.”
Nordqvist was asked which of her now three major titles is the most special and she replied; “I think this is the most special one. Just because it’s taken me a couple years and I’ve fought so hard and questioned whether I was doing the right things.
“Also, knowing like how my caddie, Paul, he’s been working so hard and I really wanted to do it for him, too. My husband has been supporting me so much, too, and all friends and family, and having spectators back and feeling that adrenaline kicking again I think this is definitely my most special win.”