Australian Minjee Lee will spend Sunday trying to stay one step ahead after moving out to a two-stroke lead at the Kroger Queen City Championship in Cincinnati.
Looking to claim the ninth LPGA Tour title of her career and her first since the US Women’s Open last June, Lee set the tone early at Kenwood Country Club.
Tied for seventh going into Round 3, birdies at each of her opening three holes moved Lee into a prominent position on the leaderboard.
Crucial par saves saw the 27-year-old turn in 3-under, four further birdies on the back nine for a bogey-free 7-under 65 moving her two clear at 15-under through 54 holes.
England’s Charley Hull (68) and Chinese Taipei’s Peiyun Chien (73) are Lee’s nearest challengers but the West Australian remains determined to hold them at bay.
“You always kind of have that thought that someone is going to chase you, I guess, so you’re always trying to be one step ahead,” Lee said of her Round 4 mentality.
“It really depends on what situation you’re in, but if you have the lead, you’re just always trying to be one step ahead.”
Admitting that she struggled with the expectations of backing up her phenomenal 2022 season, Lee has dropped from No.2 to No.13 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking.
Her playoff defeat to Jin Young Ko at the Mizuho Americas Open is one of only two top-10 finishes this season, patience with the putter now transferring into confidence on the greens.
“It’s just really belief,” Lee said.
“Once you kind of have a couple events where you’re not putting as well, you probably lose a little bit of that confidence and that belief.
“I’ve been working really hard on getting the confidence back, and it’s just a process.
“You can’t really rush it, things like that. I’m just taking it step by step and just trying to put a great stroke on every single putt I hit.
“That’s all I can do.”
A second round of 2-under 70 saw West Australian Kirsten Rudgeley maintain her spot inside the top 10 at the Ladies European Tour’s Big Green Open in The Netherlands.
Tied for fourth at last week’s KPMG Women’s Irish Open, Rudgeley went out in 2-under on Saturday before trading a bogey at the par-4 11th with a birdie at the par-4 17th for an even par back nine.
Gold Coast’s Amy Walsh fired a brilliant 5-under 67 to finish in a tie for fifth at the Rose Ladies Open on the LET Access Series, fellow Aussie Kelsey Bennett (70) one shot further back in a tie for seventh.
Despite a round of 2-under 70, Robyn Choi lost ground at the Epson Tour’s Black Desert Resort Championship.
Tied for third through two rounds, Choi fell to 13th on the leaderboard and will start the final round five strokes back of Nataliya Guseva (65, 18-under).
Five birdies in six holes around the turn provided the foundation to Cassie Porter’s 6-under 66, the Queenslander moving into a tie for 23rd with one round to play.
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