Minjee Lee will need another epic comeback at the Evian Championship if she’s to defend her title at the French major.
- Minjee Lee finishes her second round birdie-eagle to spark hope of another Evian Championship fightback
- Lee came from seven shots back on the final day to win the tournament last year
- Brooke Henderson leads the tournament at 14-under, three clear of Nelly Korda
The Australian champion’s hopes are hanging by a thread as she lies 11 shots behind Canada’s halfway leader, Brooke Henderson.
But a spectacular birdie-eagle finish to her second-round 69 on Friday was perhaps the spark for Lee to believe she’s capable of another remarkable finish like the one that propelled her to her first major at Evian-les-Bains last year.
On that occasion, the Perth player went into the final Sunday seven shots adrift, but won in a play-off after a blistering fightback.
Currently at three-under for the tournament, the 26-year-old is in a halfway tie for 30th, with a host of the game’s biggest names well ahead of her.
The field is headed by 2016 Women’s PGA champion Henderson, who shot back-to-back seven-under 64s to stand at 14-under, and American superstar Nelly Korda, who is three shots back after a second-round 67.
Henderson has become the first woman player ever to begin a major with two rounds of 64 or lower, leaving her to smile that there’s a reason for this sweet start.
“I’ve been having a lot of crepes in France,” she beamed.
“To keep the momentum going, I’d better have some more.”
Before Lee began to make belated headway in her second round, Australia’s star performer, comfortably, was the LPGA Tour stalwart Sarah Kemp, whose four-under 68 leaves her in joint-16th place at halfway, at six-under for the tournament.
World number two Lee, who has been in great form having also annexed the Women’s US Open title last month, was left frustrated for much of the day as she tried to play catch-up after her opening one-under 70.
She even looked as if she might be in for a struggle just to make the level-par cut as she went through the first 16 holes in one-over, three bogeys offsetting two birdies.
But after recording a disappointing five bogeys over the two days, she produced a terrific finish, birdieing the par-four 17th before a fine approach to the par-five 18th was followed by her sinking a 30-foot eagle putt.
Perth’s Hannah Green, the 2019 Women’s PGA champ, made sure of her weekend spot, recording a three-under 68, which leaves her at two-under.
Sydney’s Steph Kyriacou also made it with an even-par 71 putting her one-under overall, but Victoria’s Su Oh missed the cut at five-over.
There may only be one player within four shots of Henderson but the Canadian won’t feel comfortable that her nearest pursuer is the Olympic champion Korda who, like Lee, finished birdie-eagle on Friday.
“I was hitting solid shots but I wasn’t hitting it as good as (Thursday),” former world number one Korda said.
“I finally got going on 11 and kind of kick-started my day a little.”