Aussie amateur Minjee Lee is prime position to be only the second amateur to win the prestigious US Women’s Open.
Lee has fired rounds of 69 and 71 on the par 70 layout at Pinehurst No.2 and is just four shots behind American Michelle Wie, who leads a major at the halfway point for the first time in her career. Wie is has posted two rounds of 68 to lead by three over fellow compatriot and the Kraft Nabisco winner Lexi Thompson. Lee shares third place with Rolex World No.1 Stacy Lewis (73) and South Korean Amy Yang (69).
Lee was just a spectator at the U.S. Women’s Open in 2013 and a year later, she’s now a contender. The top-ranked amateur in the world from Perth, Australia lists World Golf and LPGA Halls of Famer Karrie Webb as one of her idols and was awarded a trip to Sebonack Golf Club last year by Webb through her Karrie Webb Scholarship Series. Webb gives an all-expenses paid trip for two top amateurs from Australia to accompany her to the U.S. Women’s Open
“We get to spend a week with her at the Open, which is priceless,” said Lee. “It’s like the best experience ever.”
And now, just a year later after a behind the scenes look at a U.S. Women’s Open, she’s the one showing how things are done. Lee is more than pleased with her performance so far in her U.S. Women’s Open debut.
“It is my first and I’m in contention, so I can’t ask for anything more, really,” said Lee.
Lee has performed well at her first two LPGA Tour appearances this year, a T11 at the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open and a T24 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She’s not short on confidence and believes she has the game to contend on the biggest stages. Lee plans to play as an amateur the rest of the 2014 season and then play in the LPGA Qualifying Tournament.
“Well, I was quite close at the Aussie Open the beginning of the year and a couple of the other tournaments beginning of the year,” said Lee.
“So, yeah, I think I have the ability to contend and I think in the future I’ll be able to win some tournaments.”
Webb shares 10th place at after a 73 today and is at three-over and not out of it. Katherine Kirk is a further two shots back after a 76. Nikki Campbell was the only other Australian to make the cut, which was for the top 60 players and ties. Campbell made it right on the number, nine-over, after signing for a 75 after the second round.
Unfortunately a bogey on her last hole cost Stephanie Na a place in the field on the week-end. Rebecca Artis couldn’t keep her form going from round one and finished at 12-over after an 81. I’m sure both players will have learnt a lot from the experience. Sarah Jane Smith (+14) and Stacey Keating (+19) also missed out.