Date: July 30, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Lee agonisingly close again in Scotland

It was fitting that Ariya Jutanugarn and Perth's Minjee Lee fought out the Ladies Scottish Open until the final putt.

The Thai superstar rose to the top of the world rankings today when she made a stupendous up-and-down to stave off the Australian at Gullane Golf Club, near Edinburgh.

Her one-shot victory, Jutanugarn’s third in an already remarkable LPGA Tour season, accurately portrayed 2018 for both women who have both personified consistency.

Lee, 21, began the day one shot behind her rival, and played some incredible links golf as the field had a dress rehearsal for this week’s Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

But as good as Lee’s closing five-under-par 66 was, Jutanugarn matched her almost blow for blow and held her off with a brilliant bump shot from 25m in front of the 18th green to inside 1m to set up a scrambling par after a wayward drive.

Lee, whose sublime approach trickled 3m past the cup, effectively had the subsequent birdie try to force a playoff.

When the West Australian’s putt caught the left lip, but didn’t drop, it brought to an end her charge that, simply put, could have been anything.

A handful of putts and short chips on the back nine went agonisingly close to falling – including one on the 13th that will mystify until her last breath – and the way Jutanugarn is playing, they needed to drop.

Consider these for great seasons:

Jutanugarn already has 11 top-10 finishes this season and her third win pushed her through the $US2million prize barrier, has not missed a cut and only three times finished outside the top 30;

Lee, in addition to her win and runner-up finishes in the Vic Open and Canberra Classic in February, has eight top-10 finishes including two runner-ups and a third on the LPGA Tour where she has missed just one cut and just two other finishes outside the top 30.

Not surprisingly, then, they are running 1-2 on the LPGA Tour’s Race to the CME Globe.

“I was striking the ball pretty well and (today’s) putting (was) probably the best I have out of the last three days, four days,” Lee said in typically understated fashion.

“Overall, it was a good week and looking forward to next week.”

That good form will also be carried by Queensland champion Karrie Webb, who continued her seemingly life-long love of links golf with a rousing result in her part-time season.

The seven-time major champion played all four rounds in par or better and finished in a creditable tie for 11th at four under, nine shots adrift of Jutanugarn.

Sarah Kemp, of New South Wales, also fared well before three bogeys on her final nine holes left her in a share of 28th at one under.

Katherine Kirk and Su Oh finished at one over, while Sarah Jane Smith finished at four over.