AUSTRALIAN Amateur Champion MinJee Lee and South Korea’s Chella Choi share the lead going into the final round of the 2014 Women’s Australian Open.
Twenty three year old Choi is yet to win an LPGA event but shot a course record 10-under 62 to grab the early clubhouse lead at 13-under.
She was later joined by the seemingly unflappable 17 year old Lee, fresh out of high school and unperturbed at the prospect of being the first ever amateur to win the national open.
“It’s just another round,” Lee said in anticipation of Sunday, where for the second week in succession she will be in the final group of a major professional championship. At Royal Pines last weekend she was just shaded by Cheyene Woods at the Australian Ladies Masters.
Her Saturday round at the Victoria Golf Club was a 4-under 68 that included five birdies and a single bogey. Her plan for Sunday was simple.
“I’ll just wake up, eat, come to the golf course and play,” she said matter-of-factly.
Asked about the pressure of co-leading a professional tournament, Lee said she was “cruisy” on the course.
“No, not really, I just play. I think it kind of lightens it up a little bit because I’m smiling all the time. I have a good chat with my caddy,” she said.
For her part, Choi wasn’t sure what had facilitated her best ever professional round. Sinking putts to snare two eagles (another first for her in a single round) and seven birdies no doubt helped.
“I [was] just concentrating on the moment and my stroke and I made a [lot of] putts,” said Choi, who has played in the US since 2008 but still struggles a little with English.
The only difference in her day had been having orange juice for breakfast rather than her usual milk.
“So I try the same tomorrow,” she laughed.
Another supremely talented youngster in 16 year old Lydia Ko is alone in third place on 11-under after shooting a 3-under 69.
First round leader Suzann Pettersen (72) was alone in fourth place on 10-under while overnight leader Caroline Hedwall (74) didn’t have such a happy day and shares fifth place with seven others.
Pettersen, who will become world No.1 if she finishes the tournament second or better, was on the practice tee on Saturday evening long after everyone else had gone home. (Lydia Ko was second last).
Pettersen has struggled with some aspects of her swing over the past couple of days and was obviously determined to get it right. In the process, she was showing what it takes to get to the top.
Australian Karrie Webb shot a 4-under par 68 to move to 8-under par, five strokes behind the leaders. The final group of Choi and Lee tees off at 1.40pm on Sunday.
[box]Footnote: So now after the 3rd round of the Women’s Australian Open we have the secret to success in golf: drink orange juice, smile all the time, and practice till your hands bleed.[/box]
AUSTRALIAN TELEVISION COVERAGE:
Live coverage of the final round on ABC1.
Sunday 16 February – 1:00pm – 6:00pm (AEST)
2014 Women’s Australian Open Leaderboard2014 Women’s Australian Open Leaderboard