CLIFTON, N.J. (AP) — Defending champion Minjee Lee of Australia overcame an early bogey for a 5-under 67 and a three-shot lead Saturday ahead of the final round. of the Founders Cup.
No. 6 in the world, Lee had four birdies and an eagle after taking a shot at the first par-4 at Upper Montclair Country Club. The 26-year-old had a total of 12-under-par 204 as she bid to join Jin Young Ko as the only players to successfully defend a title at the event honoring the 13 founding members of the LPGA Tour.
Ko won in 2019 and 2021. The event did not take place in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
American Angel Yin and South Korean rookie Hae Ran Ryu shared second place, one shot ahead of Ko, Ashleigh Buhai and Aditi Ashok. Grace Kim and Cheyenne Knight were tied for seventh, five strokes behind the leader.
Solheim Cup captain Stacy Lewis, who won this event in 2013, was at 6 under par along with Atthaya Thitikul, Nasa Hataoka and first round leader Sei Young Kim, who shot a 68 after a 76 in the second round.
Sarah Kemp, who shared half the lead with Ko, increased to 75 on Saturday, 10 shots higher than in her second round. The 37-year-old Australian who has never won on tour was seven strokes off the lead.
Lee’s erratic drive on the opening hole led to her bogey. She birdied numbers 2, 6, 8 and 9 up front, hitting a 50-footer on the par-3 eighth. Her eagle came from 20-footers on the par-5 12th.
She is the only player on the course who shot all of her rounds in the ’60s on the tight, tree-lined course that places great importance on fairway shots.
Ko, who won her second consecutive HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, was inconsistent in her round, which ended in a birdie.
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