SOUTHERN PINES, NC — On moving day of the US Women’s Open, Minjee Lee surpassed Mina Harigae with a 4-under-67 at Pine Needles.
Both Lee and Harigae went into Saturday’s round with a 9-under draw. Although it looked like the two players would face off on the court, Lee had a different game plan.
“I didn’t really notice [Mina] I played so much because I was really in my zone,” Lee said. “I was just trying to make as many birdies as possible just to try and get a good score.”
Lee, who knows how to win in the LPGA with 7 wins including her first major win at last year’s Evian Championship, understands what needs to happen for her to be victorious.
“I’m just going to stick with what I know,” Lee said. “I’ve been to a lot of US Opens and I’ve been in such pressure situations before. Just take my experience from the other events and the other Opens and try to finish it tomorrow.”
Full field results from the US Women’s Open
Harigae, who is three shots behind Lee, has won seven times as a professional golfer but has yet to win at the LPGA. She was under pressure to fight for victory at a Major at last year’s AIG Women’s Open in Carnoustie. She was on top through Saturday and finished T-13 this week and has yet to make the top 10 in a major. However, she has drawn on those recent experiences for this US Women’s Open week now that she is in contention for a major title once again.
“I was a bit nervous at first, but I was able to make some good shots,” said Harigae. “I made a good birdie when I was 16. I think overall I’m just happy with how I’ve managed to persevere. I can control my emotions much better, especially when it’s high tension when things aren’t going the way I want them to.”
Lee shared her feelings coming down the track on Saturday’s lap.
“Pretty much when I was on the run from birdies I wasn’t too nervous. But I think to get out there a little bit more, just maybe with more people, just a little bit more pressure. Yes, I’m pretty calm. My personality is pretty calm anyway. I don’t think I’m going too high or too low. I think that’s one of my strengths.”
Harigae self-affirmed that “confidence” will be key for her to keep up with Lee on Sunday.
“I just realized that if I’m going to get to the next level, I have to really get a handle on myself emotionally,” she said.
Lee shared her Sunday game schedule. “I’ll just try to make as many birdies as possible to give myself as many opportunities as possible on the greens. Play it safe if you have to and just take one shot at a time,” said Lee, who also received a text message from Karrie Webb, who won the back-to-back US Women’s Open in 2000 and 2001.
“She said keep it up,” Lee said. “Let’s go Aussie.”