Australia’s Minjee Lee moved up the leaderboard with a 5-under-par 66 on Friday to tie Mina Harigae for the 36-hole lead at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C.
Lee, the fourth-ranked player in the world, made six birdies and one bogey to catch up to Harigae, who held the lead after one round and posted a 69 on Friday. Both are at 9-under 133 after two rounds.
South Korea’s Hye-Jin Choi shot a 64 for the low round of the day and joined Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist (68 on Friday) two back of the leaders.
World No. 1 Jin Young Ko of South Korea (67) and Swedish amateur Ingrid Lindblad (71) are tied for fifth at 6 under.
Lee rolled in four of her birdies on the front nine before cooling off. Last July she broke through for her first major title at the Evian Championship in France, and she got back to the winner’s circle last month at the Cognizant Founders Cup.
“The golf course can really catch up to you quickly, so just trying to take whatever I have in front of me,” Lee said. “Whenever I have a birdie opportunity, I try to take advantage of that.”
Harigae made five birdies but also had three bogeys. Though winless on the LPGA Tour in 13 seasons, she is once again contending at a major after sharing the 36-hole lead at a major last year, the Women’s British Open, and finishing tied for 13th.
“Since (I played in) the morning, fairways were a little softer, greens were a little softer, so my drives weren’t going as far and I had a little longer clubs in,” Harigae said.
After shooting 2 under on the back nine to start her round, Choi birdied five of her last nine holes to make a push. She was the runner-up at this championship in 2017 as an amateur at age 17, but it is her first full season on the LPGA Tour after dominating the Korean equivalent in recent years.
“I think that this U.S. Women’s Open fits me quite well and I think the course is excellent,” Choi said. “I had high expectations when I came here.”
Lindblad shot an even-par round (three birdies, three bogeys) after the 22-year-old surprisingly held the lead for much of Thursday and went to bed in second place.
World No. 2 Nelly Korda, playing her first tournament since taking time off to deal with a blood clot in her arm, is tied for 14th at 3 under after a second-round 69.
Danielle Kang made the cut on the number at 3 over par and revealed Friday that she is playing through a tumor on her spine. Kang said doctors hadn’t determined whether it was malignant or benign.
Michelle Wie West shot a 74 on Friday and missed the cut at 5 over. Wie West is taking an indeterminate break from competitive golf following this week, only planning to play next year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach.
“I’m probably going to let the clubs collect some dust on them for a little bit now, but I’m excited,” Wie West said. “There’s a lot of projects that I’m working on that I haven’t had time to do before, so I’m just going to dive into those. I’m really excited.”
Ten-time major champion Annika Sorenstam of Sweden shot 81 on Friday and missed the cut at 10 over. She was competing in her first U.S. Women’s Open since 2008.
Defending champion Yuka Saso of Japan also missed the cut at 9 over.
–Field Level Media