An uncharacteristic closing calamity has cost Minjee Lee a prominent spot on the LPGA Tour’s Lotte Championship leaderboard in Hawaii.
Lee had been two under and without a blemish since the seventh hole at the Ko Olina Golf Club on Oahu today until she imploded with a closing triple-bogey seven to tumble off the pace.
Her second-round three-over-par 75 followed her opening 70 to leave her one over and in a share of 32nd place.
Lee, 21, typically a model of consistency who has not finished worse than 26th and has five top-six finishes this season alone, will need to hit back early, hard and often tomorrow if she’s to regain the title she won in 2016 with the field chasing red-hot leader, Brooke Henderson.
The Canadian followed her opening 68 with a superb six-under-par 66 today to reach 10 under, two clear of American Mo Martin and Chinese world No.1 Shanshan Feng with another two shots back to the rest of the field, including Sweden’s recent ANA Inspiration winner Pernilla Lindberg.
Lee’s fellow Ritchie Smith protégé Hannah Green is making another solid run in her LPGA Tour rookie campaign, which already includes three top-20 finishes, including at her first major championship last month.
Green, also 21, has carded two even-par rounds of 72 to again be leading Aussie, in fact projecting into the top 26 in the season-long Race to the CME Globe standings.
New South Welshwoman Rebecca Artis will join the WA pair in round three, although with five birdies in her first two rounds, she won’t be thrilled that she’s two over after twin rounds of 73.
Queenslander Katherine Kirk cut things tight with a late bogey, but her second-round 74 proved just enough to advance to the closing rounds on the cut number at three over.
One who won’t be thrilled is Queenslander Sarah Jane Smith who made four late bogeys in her second round to drop from even par to four over, agonisingly on the wrong side of the cut mark.
Another to miss the weekend action will be Victorian Su Oh, whose 73 today was an improvement on her opening 77, but only enough to reach six over.