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Minjee Lee one behind leaders in Scotland

Sarah Kemp's round of the day 67 has her close to contention (Photo: Ladies European Tour )
Australia’s Minjee Lee sits just one shot behind the lead at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open, the 22 year old’s third round of 71 in demanding conditions on day three at the Gullane Golf Club in East Lothian leaving her behind only Amy Yang and Ariya Jutanugarn.

As the 36 hole leader Tiffany Joh struggled with the expectation and the conditions, Lee actually took a share of the lead through the middle of her round with Amy Yang but both players battled with the strong winds over the closing stages.

Jutanugarn appeared to be slipping from contention when she dropped four shots in her first fifteen holes but an eagle at the par five 16th when pitching in from the just short of the green saw her back in a share of the lead with Lee and Yang.

Both Yang and Lee bogeyed the 17th hole before Yang birdied the last to re-join Jutanugarn in the lead.

“I started pretty well,” said Lee. “I turned 3-under, but yeah, it was, as you said, it was really, really hard out there. The wind is like gusting like crazy, and overall, I played pretty solid.

“I mean, it was really, really gusty. Not gusty -- it was like the same wind but it was constant. There was no like break in the wind and it was really, really hard to putt. I missed a couple short ones, but I think everybody did, and it was really hard.

“So yeah, it's a true test of golf I think around here. Obviously you've got to judge the wind really well, but it's just what it is. It's hard for everyone.”

Yang and Jutanugarn began the day three behind the lead of Joh but, after an early birdie, Joh fell apart dropping seven shots in her next six holes and would drop three more on the way home for a round of 80.

She is, though, in a share of 7th place and still only five from the lead such were the demands of the day.

Today was Yang’s birthday but her mind was on other things. “When I went on to the golf course, I totally forgot it was just my birthday. I just focused how I'm going to play, but you know, a lot of people wished me a happy birthday today. Wonderful day, yeah.”

Yang has won three LPGA Tour titles but all three have been outside of the USA and her chances tomorrow of adding another in that category appear good.

The sublime swinging Korean is a big event player who plays demanding conditions well and her chances tomorrow of a fourth title would appear very good.

Of course she has to contend with the highly talented Jutanugarn who has a proven record in this style of golf so tomorrow is shaping as a real battle between not only Jutanugarn, Yang and Lee but sixteen players are within five shots of the lead and these conditions suggest any one of them could yet take the title.

Amongst those in that group are Lee’s fellow Australians Karrie Webb and Sarah Kemp, the pair in a share of 10th place at 3 under.

Kemp’s round of 67 was the best of the day and allowed her to move a massive move from the cutline to now contention. She finished her round nearly five hours ahead of the final group and given she no longer has status on the LPGA Tour and is playing the event as a Ladies European tour member this was a very important day for the NSW golfer.

“I don't know how high it's going to get,” said Kemp when finishing her round so early. “Hopefully it jumps up a little bit more and gets me a bit of a sleep-in tomorrow would be awesome. So, yeah, good.

“I grew up on a golf course in Sydney that's links and right on the ocean, so very windy. It's not unfamiliar for me playing in the wind and yeah, getting the bounces. It's probably helped me a little bit this week, which has been good."

Webb finished runner-up in this event last year and today she displayed her skills on links style golf layouts when she recorded an outward nine of 32 to move into the frame.

After her round she explained why she plays links golf so well. “I love it because it takes me away from being technical because you just can't be.

“You've got to just be very creative and play a bunch of different shots that you're not used to but just trust in your ability that you can do it because it's not like you rehearse those shots on the range. It's great for me to be like that.”

So while this week’s event is seen by many as a lead-in to next week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, tomorrow’s final round of the Ladies Scottish Open is shaping as a very special day in LPGA and LET golf.

KIERAN PRATT - THE HIGH AND SOFT BUNKER SHOT

  

 

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