U.S. Women’s Open Presented by ProMedica
Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club | Southern Pines, N.C. | June 2-5, 2022
June 4, 2022
Course Setup: 35-36—71, 6,600 yards (Scoring Averages: R1, 73.346; R2, 73.287; R3, 73.218)
Weather: Mostly sunny, with highs in the upper 80s
MINJEE LEE SURGES TO RECORD-SETTING U.S. WOMEN’S OPEN LEAD
On a spectacular day at North Carolina’s Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club, it was Australian Minjee Lee who rose to the challenge. With a 4-under 67 on Saturday’s Moving Day, the 26-year-old Australian set the U.S. Women’s Open 54-hole scoring record at 13-under 200, breaking the previous mark of 201 set by Juli Inkster in 1999. Lee will take a three-stroke lead over California’s Mina Harigae into the final round of the season’s second major championship.
After a quiet opening eight holes, Lee turned on the jets as she turned her attention to the back nine. She reeled off four consecutive birdies, starting with 11-footers at holes 9 and 10. At the par-4 11th, she put her approach to 7 feet and rolled in the birdie, and then capped the streak with a 12-footer at No. 12.
“When I was on the run of birdies, I wasn’t too nervous. I think coming down the stretch a little bit more, just with more people maybe, just a little bit more pressure,” said Lee, who won three weeks ago at the Cognizant Founders Cup. “I’m pretty calm. My personality is pretty calm anyway. I don’t think I get too high or too low. I think that’s a strength of mine.”
Lee is now 18 holes away from joining her childhood idol and countrywoman Karrie Webb as U.S. Women’s Open champions at Pine Needles. Lee said she has already heard from Webb, who sent her a typical patriotic sentiment. “She texted me yesterday actually,” she said with a laugh. “She said, keep it going, let’s go Aussie.”
Playing alongside Lee in the final group, it was actually Harigae who had the stronger opening stretch. She made the turn at -2 on the day, sitting at -11 and one stroke clear of Lee. But back-to-back bogeys at 11 and 12, combined with Lee’s torrid birdie streak, dropped the 12-year LPGA Tour veteran to four shots off the pace.
“I was a little nervous in the beginning, but I was able to hit some good shots. My middle was pretty good,” said Harigae, looking for her first win in her 256th start on the LPGA tour. “Hit (some) little squirrelly shots, but then I made a good birdie on 16. I think overall I’m just happy with the way I was able to hang in there.”
Bronte Law of England surged into solo third at -7, six shots behind Lee and three short of Harigae. Former Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lydia Ko shot the round of the day with a 5-under 66 on Saturday. She is one of seven players tied for fourth at -6, a group that includes current World No. 1 Jin Young Ko, three-time major champion Anna Nordqvist and Swedish amateur Ingrid Lindblad.
WITH A WIN
Minjee Lee would join Jan Stephenson (1983) and Karrie Webb (2000, 2001) as Australians to win the U.S. Women’s Open
Minjee Lee, who won the 2021 Amundi Evian Championship,would become the first player to win majors in consecutive years since In Gee Chun (2015 U.S. Women’s Open, 2016 Amundi Evian Championship)
Mina Harigae would be the first American to win the U.S. Women’s Open since Brittany Lang in 2016
Mina Harigae would be the fifth player in the last six years to win the U.S. Women’s Open as her first LPGA Tour victory, joining Yuka Saso (2021), A Lim Kim (2020), Jeongeun Lee6 (2019) and Sung Hyun Park (2017)
Bronte Law would be the third English player to win the U.S. Women’s Open, joining Laura Davies (1987) and Alison Nicholas (1997)
Jin Young Ko would earn her third major title, joining the 2019 Chevron Championship and the 2019 Amundi Evian Championship, and move within one title of completing the Career Grand Slam
Anna Nordqvist would earn her fourth major title, joining the 2009 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the 2017 Amundi Evian Championship and the 2021 AIG Women’s Open, and complete the Career Grand Slam
Ingrid Lindblad would join Catherine Lacoste (1967) as the only amateurs to win the U.S. Women’s Open
LYDIA KO COMING ON STRONG WITH ONE ROUND LEFT AT THE USWO
With just one round left to play at the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica, Lydia Ko has catapulted herself up the leaderboard after a Saturday 66. The 5-under round saw Ko make six birdies and one bogey, and she hit 13 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens on Moving Day, needing only 27 putts to get the job done at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club. Her 66 ties her lowest round of the major championship – she also shot 66 at the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle where she finished tied for third, her best finish in the event – and Ko will again be looking to go low on Sunday in Southern Pines.
“Overall, I think I played solid, and I hit a lot of greens,” she said. “Some of the greens I hit, it was quite a ways away from the pin, but still, you take any green in regulations. I stayed pretty patient out there, and I think that’s what I did pretty well these last few days. You know that even though it’s the same as any other 72-hole event, this week just feels a little longer, a little tougher.
The Rolex Rankings No. 3 has played some solid golf this season, notching her 17th career victory at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio and carding top-10s at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions (T10) and the Palos Verdes Championship presented by Bank of America (T3). She leads the Tour in putting average and hasn’t finished outside the top 25 since the 2021 AIG Women’s Open last season, where she tied for 29th. As she looks to the final round at a firm and fast Pine Needles, Ko is readying herself to chase down leader Minjee Lee and is prepared for the challenge of a U.S. Women’s Open Sunday.
“There have been some lower scores at this course,” said Ko, who currently sits in a tie for fourth through 54 holes. “I don’t know how it’s going to be set up, what the weather is forecasted to be tomorrow. It’s the U.S. Women’s Open. There’s always that little bit of adrenaline and a little bit of nerves that necessarily don’t come at any other event. It’s a fun course where I think you can be aggressive, but at the same time, there are some penalizing bits as well. You have to play really smart. I think this has been one of the most fun venues of the U.S. Women’s Opens that I’ve played. So I’d better finish off my week well and see where that puts me at the end of tomorrow.”
BRONTE LAW LINGERING AT THE TOP OF THE LEADERBOARD
It’s been a tough road for England’s Bronte Law over the past couple of years, but so far at the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica, the 27-year-old looks like her old self, sitting in solo third at -7 through 54 holes.
Saturday saw Law card a 3-under 68, highlighted by five birdies, and she’s one of just two players in the field that have shot in the 60s for all three rounds, along with leader Minjee Lee. It’s Law’s fourth appearance in the U.S. Women’s Open – she has missed the cut twice and finished in a tie for 30th in 2020 at Houston’s Champions Golf Club – and with just 18 holes to go in at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club, she’ll look to continue that upward trend on Sunday at the second major of the year.
“Wouldn’t say there was really anything different,” said Law, who hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens on day three. “Played pretty solid the whole day and played smart. I think that is the key out here. You can’t really aim at a lot of pins. So as long as you can take your pride away and know that you’re going to be aiming away from a lot of flags, then I’m sure that you’ll be able to be more successful.”
Law has two professional wins – the 2019 Pure Silk Championship on the LPGA Tour and the 2021 Dubai Moonlight Classic on the LET – and her best finish in a major is a tie for 18th at the 2018 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. So far this season, she’s missed one cut and withdrawn once, with her best result a tie for 13th at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio. In other words, it’s been pretty lackluster golf for Law, but as she prepares for the final round in which she’ll begin six shots back of Lee at -13, you can bet the spirited Englishwoman will bring plenty of internal fire to the party, hoping to capitalize on any early mistakes the leaders might make.
“It’s all about not necessarily aiming at the pins,” Law said. “Even if you’ve got a wedge in your hand, it’s taking your medicine and aiming to the best point of the green for where the hole location is at that point in time. I’m certainly not going to be changing my game plan. Just hoping that a couple more putts drop out there. Today could have been equally three, four shots better. Just building off what happened today. Hit a lot of good shots, putts. I showed that I can do that today, so no reason I can’t go out and do that tomorrow.”
NELLY KORDA KEEPING UP WITH CONTENDERS IN COMEBACK APPEARANCE
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Nelly Korda has certainly learned a thing or two about perspective over the last three months. After a 2021 season that saw her win her first major, earn Olympic Gold and reach No. 1 in the world, golf fans expected the 23-year-old Floridian to ascend to even greater heights in 2022. Instead, Korda has been sidelined since early March after being diagnosed with a blood clot in her left arm and undergoing surgery.
“It’s like when you’re sick and your nose is stuffy, you’re so grateful to be able to breathe. I feel like it’s the same way,” said Korda before the start of this week’s U.S. Women’s Open, her first competitive start since January. “I think when it’s kind of taken away from you, you kind of sit back and you realize how amazing of a sport it is and then how you can travel the world and how you can just do what you love.”
Move ahead to Saturday and other than a few late bobbles, you’d never know that Korda was coming off such a long layoff and a scary health situation. Korda is 4-under through 54 holes at the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica, historically one of the toughest events on the women’s professional schedule. Korda was even tied for third at -7 through 15 holes, but three straight bogeys to end her round dropped her into a tie for 14th heading into Sunday’s final round. Still, the inside-the-ropes experience this week at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club has been a salve for Korda’s competitive spirit.
“I’m doing what I love and I’m out here in the heat competing at the U.S. Women’s Open, and a couple months back I wasn’t sure if I was going to be doing that,” said Korda on Saturday after signing autographs for the scores of fans who lined the pine straw at Pine Needles. “I don’t think I’ve ever had that big of a crowd following me at a Women’s Open or in general on a Saturday, not even being in the last pairing. So that was really cool to hear everyone shout my name. And for everyone to say that they’re happy that I’m back, it felt really nice, too.”
Rolex Rankings No. 4 Minjee Lee (67-66-67)
- She hit 13 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens with 28 putts
- This is Lee’s sixth time holding the 54-hole lead; she’s gone on to win four times, most recently at the 2022 Cognizant Founders Cup
- Her three-day total of 200 ties her third lowest 54-hole total most recently shot at the Honda LPGA Thailand
- This is Lee’s eighth season on the LPGA Tour; she has seven career wins, including a major championship title at the 2021 Amundi Evian Championship
- This is Lee’s ninth start in the U.S. Women’s Open; her best finish is a T11 in 2017
- This is Lee’s ninth event of the 2022 season; she has one win at the Cognizant Founders Cup and has recorded two additional top-five finishes, a tie for second at the HSBC Women’s World Championship and a tie for third at the DIO Implant LA Open
- Lee leads the Race to the CME Globe with 1,202 points; she also leads in rounds in the 60s (15) and scoring average (68.89)
- Since missing the cut at the 2021 Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, Lee has recorded five top-five results and a victory in 13 starts
- Through the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards, Lee leads the Aon Risk Reward Challenge (-1.143)
- She represented Australia at the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games, finishing T7 and T29 respectively
Rolex Rankings No. 52 Mina Harigae (64-69-70)
- She hit 12 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens, with 29 putts
- Harigae most recently was within five of the lead entering the final round at the 2021 CME Group Tour Championship, where she finished tied for third
- This is Harigae’s 13th season on the LPGA Tour; she has no career victories and 19 career top-10s, most recently a tie for third at the 2021 CME Group Tour Championship
- This is Harigae’s 12th appearance in the U.S. Women’s Open; her best finish is a tie for 28th in 2012 at Blackwolf Run
- Her best finish in a major championship is T13, recorded at the 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the 2021 AIG Women’s Open
- Harigae was a member of the 2021 U.S. Solheim Cup
- She was a member of the 2008 U.S. Curtis Cup team
- Harigae won the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links at Kearney Hills Golf Links
Rolex Rankings No. 143 Bronte Law (69-69-68)
- She hit 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens with 29 putts
- This is Law’s sixth season on the LPGA Tour; she won the 2019 Pure Silk Championship and has eight other top-10 finishes
- This is her fourth start in the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica; her best finish is a tie for 30th in 2020 at Champions Golf Club
- This is Law’s eighth start of the 2022 season; her best finish is a tie for 13th at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio
- Member of the 2019 European Solheim Cup Team, and represented GB&I at the 2012, 2014 and 2016 Curtis Cup
- Graduated from UCLA in 2017 with a degree in sociology
- While at UCLA, she won seven collegiate tournaments, was awarded three Player of the Year awards from PING/WGCA, Golfweek and the Pac-12, and was the 2016 ANNIKA Award recipient
156 players; 72 holes, stroke play, cut to top 60 and ties after 36 holes
SOCIAL MEDIA: #DRIVEON
Championship: @uswomensopen, @usga (Twitter and Instagram); #USWomensOpen
LPGA: @LPGA, @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)
TV TIMES (all times Eastern)
|Sunday, June 5||1-3 p.m.||Round 4||USA|
|Sunday, June 5||3-7 p.m.||Round 4||NBC|
TOURNAMENT SCORING RECORDS
18 holes: 63, Helen Alfredsson, first round, 1994
36 holes: 132, Helen Alfredsson, 1994
54 holes: 200, Minjee Lee, 2022
72 holes: 272, Annika Sorenstam, 1996; Juli Inkster, 1999; In Gee Chun, 2015