Date: April 28, 2019
Author: Mark Hayes

Lee bridges over early trouble

If how you hit back from adversity counts, Minjee Lee has one hand on the LA Open title in California.

West Australian Lee (-11) will take a one-stroke lead into tomorrow’s final round, seeking her fifth career LPGA Tour title.

She will again be paired with Dane Nanna Koerstz Madsen (-10) in the final group after they cleared out from the field late in a tumultuous third round.

Fellow Perth golfer Hannah Green remains a remote hope of a breakthrough victory after an even-par 71 left her in a group sharing 10th at four under par.

Queenslanders Sarah Jane Smith (71 for even par) and Katherine Kirk (72 for one over) are too far back to contend after their compatriot’s back-nine rally.

Lee began brightly with a pair of birdies, but gave them and more back when she had an uncharacteristic triple-bogey seven on the par-four third hole.

But rather than let it fester, the Royal Fremantle member answered with four consecutive threes – two for par and two more for birdies on the sixth and seventh holes – as she regained the halfway lead and her composure.

In the interim, legendary Korean Inbee Park injected herself briefly into a share of the lead with five front-nine birdies, but her putter went cold and, combined with a bogey on the 17th, she fell back to seven under, four adrift of Lee.

The dual Vic Open winner looked set to kick well clear when she lined up an eagle putt on the par-five 15th. But a three-putt par kept her rivals in touch and provided Madsen a timely lift.

The Dane, seeking her first win on the LPGA Tour, birdied three in a row from the 15th to climb back into the title chase and missed a chance to pull level with Lee on the last when she pulled a short birdie try.

Top-ranked Jin Young Ko and Morgan Pressel finished at six under and look the last likely contenders to spoil the leader’s party.