Minjee Lee seems to be on a mission.
The 26-year-old Australian shot a four-under 67 on Saturday to take a three-stroke lead over American Mina Harigae in the final round of the US Women’s Open in Southern Pines, North Carolina.
“My approach [Sunday] going to be the same as the last three days – I’m just going to try and birdie as much as possible and give myself as many chances on the greens as possible,” Lee said.
At 13-under 200, Lee is within striking distance of the US Women’s Open scoring record from par held by Juli Inkster, who finished at 16-under 272 in 1999 at Old Waverly. Inkster did it on a par-72 course, while the par-71 at Pine Needles.
“I didn’t really think about it,” Lee said. “If I play well, it will come with it, right?”
Lee, ranked fourth, won the Founders Cup three weeks ago in New Jersey in the circuit’s final stroke play event for his seventh victory on the LPGA Tour. She is trying to win her second major title after winning the 2021 Evian Championship.
Harigae shot a 70. England’s Bronte Law finished third at seven under after a 68.
South Korean Jin Young Ko and American Nelly Korda, the best players in the world rankings, failed to take advantage of the move.
Top-ranked Ko struggled with her putter and finished at 71, leaving her tied for fourth at six under with three-time major winner Anna Nordqvist, Xiyu Lin, Lydia Ko, Hye-Jin Choi and l lover Ingrid Lindblad. Lydia Ko had the best lap of the day with a 66, while Lin shot a 67, Jin Young Ko had a 71 and Nordqvist and Choi had 72.
Korda was four under after a 70.
“It’s definitely not the finish I wanted,” said Korda, who bogeyed the last three holes after battling to get to seven under.
Billy Horschel conducts Memorial
Billy Horschel is more concerned with the way he plays than the size of his Memorial lead. Anyway, he is in good shape for the final round.
On a course in Muirfield Village which is becoming increasingly firm, Horschel has not bogeyed since the 10th hole of his first round. There were five players tied for the lead at one point. Horschel finished the day five shots ahead in Dublin, Ohio.
It was the second year in a row for a big 54-hole lead at the Memorial. Horschel at least has a chance to finish the job.
A year after Jon Rahm built a six-stroke lead – only to be forced to retire after the third round due to a positive COVID-19 test – Horschel delivered a gem on a glorious afternoon with a seven under 65 for the biggest 54-hole lead of his career.
Horschel chipped in for a birdie on his first hole. Everything else was just solid, with only one other birdie putt outside of 10-foot range.
He was 13-under 203, five shots ahead of Aaron Wise (69) and Cameron Smith (72).
“I just go to the tee knowing I’m leading the tournament. I know I have a lot of shots ahead of me,” Horschel said. “I’m not going to be protective. I’m not going to be too aggressive. I will play as I have done for the last three days.
He will be aiming for his sixth individual title and his seventh victory on the PGA Tour.
Daniel Berger had a 67 and was six strokes behind Jhonattan Vegas and 2018 British Open champion Francesco Molinari, who has not finished in the top five since the 2019 Masters.
Defending champion Patrick Cantlay, a former UCLA standout, started his round by firing his tee shot into a stream and making a double bogey. He atoned for it with a pair of eagles. He finished with three straight putts outside eight feet and shot a 69. He was seven behind.
It seems to be too far back – the biggest comeback at the Memorial is five shots, the most recent 15 years ago by KJ Choi. Again, the players rallied seven shots down to win the past two weeks – Sam Burns at Colonial and Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
Kevin Na resigns as a tour member
Kevin Na has become the first player to publicly resign from the PGA Tour, four days after the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational entered him on the course for the debut of the new series next week.
Na is one of six players to quit, a person with knowledge of their decisions told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the players did not say so. Na announced his decision on social media.
Na is No. 33 in the world and among four top 50 players who have signed for the Saudi riches to play in Greg Norman’s new league of 48 players over 54 holes and up to $25 million in prize money for each event .
The first starts on Friday outside London.
“I would like to have the freedom to play wherever I want and exercising my right as a free agent gives me that opportunity,” he wrote. “However, to remain a PGA Tour player, I have to give up my right to make those choices about my career.”
Na is a five-time PGA Tour winner with $37.9 million in career earnings.
The PGA Tour requires members to play 15 times per year, and it historically grants outings to at least three overseas tournaments per year. However, he declined exits from the LIV Golf Invitational due to his threat as an eight-tournament series, including five in the United States.
Steven Alker tied for Champions League lead
Steven Alker topped yet another PGA Tour champion standings, shooting an eight under 64 for a share of the second-round lead at the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa.
After picking up a victory last week at Michigan in the Senior PGA Championship, Alker played all four par fives at the Wakonda Club in five under – making an eagle and three birdies – to tie first-round leader Jerry Kelly Kirk Triplett and Brett Quigley at 13-under 131.
Alker is trying to win for the fifth time in his last 12 events. The 50-year-old New Zealander has spent most of his career on the Korn Ferry Tour and a few seasons on the PGA Tour and European Tour. Last week at Benton Harbor, he closed with an eight-under 63 for a three-stroke victory.
Kelly shot a 66, Triplett, 60, followed an opening 63 with a 68, and Quigley had a 66. Bernhard Langer was a shot back after a 66.
Hole-in-one boosts Victor Perez
A hole-in-one helped Victor Perez take a one-shot lead in the final round of the European Open in Winsen, Germany with a chance of claiming a second title in as many weeks.
The Frenchman, winner of the Dutch Open last weekend, shot an under 71 thanks to a great start at Green Eagle – a birdie on the first par-four and a hole-in-one on the second par -three.
At five under 211, Perez went from two behind overnight leader and playing partner Jordan Smith to one ahead of Joakim Lagergren of Sweden (71) and Julien Brun of France (71). Smith hit a five-for-77 and dropped four shots behind.