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Minjee Lee Wins US Women’s Open Golf – Live Reaction!

The gold medal for low amateur is draped around the neck of Ingrid Lindblad … then the Mickey Wright gold medal is awarded to the 2022 US Open champion Minjee Lee! She smiles widely and waves to thank the gallery for the ovation she receives … then lifts the famous pot into the air! “I am speechless. I can’t believe it. It’s such a great honour, it’s been my dream since I was a little girl, the one I’ve always wanted to win! It feels amazing!” As for the groundbreaking purse on offer this week, and what it means to the women’s game? “It’s such a large sum. I’m really honoured to be the first winner of such a sum, but we’re only going to get better and better!”

That’s such a deserved victory for Minjee Lee. She flew out of the blocks with a birdie-birdie start, then ground it out for the next couple of hours, responding to bogeys at 5 and 7 with a series of scrambles, and nerveless par putts, that kept her on track. Birdies at 12 and 15 ensured the job was completed easily enough; the only downside to the bogeys at 16 and 18 being her chance of becoming only the second player to shoot four rounds in the 60s at a US Open, after Nancy Lopez in 1997, was passed up. She’s unlikely to lose too much sleep about that, though. A second major title for the brilliant 26-year-old from Perth, to go with the breakthrough Evian she won last year!

Minjee Lee wins the 2022 US Women’s Open!Lee carelessly lets a short par putt slide by the hole, Scottie Scheffler style, but who cares?! She’s become just the third Australian to win the US Women’s Open, after Jan Stephenson and her hero Karrie Webb!

-13: Lee (F)

-9: Harigae (F)

Mina Harigae cradles a 20-foot birdie attempt up to kick-in distance, and she’s got second place all to herself! A cool million dollars will soon drop into her account. Deservedly so, too, holding her nerve as the chasing pack hunted her down, pulling away again down the closing stretch. A final round of 72. She’s -9 overall.

A huge smile of relief plays across Mina Hariage’s face as she finds the centre of 18 with her second. Pin high, she’ll have three putts from 20 feet to guarantee second place all to herself. And it’s job done for Minjee Lee, too, as she’s on in regulation as well. The gallery rises to give the champion elect the ovation her sheer brilliance – and mental resilience – deserves!

Bogey for Lydia Ko at the last. That’s an awful finish for the New Zealander: three bogeys in the last four holes. Bogey for Bronte Law, too, who will be fuming at that downbeat end, but when the dust clears, she’ll be very pleased with her first top-ten finish at a major tournament. Ko and Law end the week at -5 and -4 respectively.

A pair of pars for Minjee Lee and Mina Harigae on 17. Lee’s drive flirted with the trees down the left, but otherwise they’re both fuss-free. Lee is now one characteristically calm hole from her second major title. Harigae by contrast may not be so serene. She’s so close to her best performance in a major by a long chalk. Her best finish in the US Open was a tie for 28th in 2012; her best in any major are ties for 13th at the 2020 PGA and last year’s British Open. The difference between second and third is nearly half a million dollars. You can imagine her heart-rate as her tee shot flirts with trouble down the left … but holds onto the fairway. Lee also finds the short stuff. Both so close to home now.

Ingrid Lindblad and Xiyu Lin both sign for a 76, ending their week at -1. The Swedish amateur is this year’s low amateur. The only downside after an excellent week for the 22-year-old is her 11th place finish: had she finished in the top ten, she would have gained automatic entry to next year’s edition at the iconic Pebble Beach. Still, what a performance!

Bronte Law draws a stunning approach into 17. She leaves herself with a ten-footer for birdie, and steers it in to become only the fourth player today to make one at the hole. She rises to -5 … but her playing partner Lydia Ko comes the other way. It looks as though she’s saved her par at 17 with a long bunker shot to four feet, but she can’t make the putt and drops to -6.

-14: Lee (16)

-9: Harigae (16)

-7: Choi (F)

-6: JY Ko (F), L Ko (17)

-5: Law (17)

A three-putt bogey for the leader Minjee Lee at the par-three 16th. It’s a mistake unlikely to be particularly costly, as she still has a five-shot lead over second-placed Mina Hairgae, who makes a two-putt par. It probably does mean she won’t be equalling the tournament record for score to par, set at -16 by Juli Inkster in 1999 and Ariya Jutanugarn in 2018.

-14: Lee (16)

-9: Harigae (16)

Minjee Lee of Australia prepares to putt on the 16th green. Photograph: Kevin C Cox/Getty ImagesThe world number one, Ko Jin-young, is in with a level-par 71. A slightly undercooked performance rescued by those birdies at 15 and 17. Plenty of wins on the LPGA Tour for the 26-year-old from Seoul, but no major since the Dinah Shore and Evian in 2019. This will be her highest finish in any major since coming second in this competition in 2020, though, signs she might be about to slake her major thirst soon. Congressional in three weeks’ time? She ends this one at -6.

Ko Jin-young of Korea. Photograph: Jared C Tilton/Getty ImagesMina Harigae plays the par-five 15th in textbook fashion! Two big cracks down the middle, a fearless wedge to four feet, and a putt straight into the centre of the cup. She’s suddenly alone in second spot, two clear of the aforementioned Choi Hye-jin and Lydia Ko, who does well to scramble par at 16 by getting up and down from sand. Birdie too for the runaway leader Minjee Lee, incidentally. Her coolness under the pressure of defending a big lead, one everyone expects you to convert, isn’t even news any more.

-15: Lee (15)

-9: Harigae (15)

-7: Choi (F), L Ko (16)

A bogey at the last for Choi Hye-jin, the punishment for a weak chip up from the back of the green. She pushes the 12-foot par putt that remains, and she signs for a one-under 70. Finally, another round in red figures! Only the second of the day so far, after Jeongeun Lee6’s 69. She’s the new clubhouse leader at -7. Her playing partner Leona Maguire returns a disappointing final round of 74 and ends the week at -2.

The world number one Ko Jin-young is finishing in style! Having picked up a stroke at 15, she’s now sent a tramliner into the cup from silly distance at 17. She raises both arms in the air, suddenly sensing a higher finish than she might have expected an hour ago … and fourth spot is suddenly within reach after her namesake Lydia’s bogey at 15. Birdie for Bronte Law at 15, meanwhile, and suddenly there’s been a bit of movement at the top of the leaderboard. Not the very top, but you get the gist.

-14: Lee (14)

-8: Choi (17), Harigae (14)

-7: L Ko (15)

-6: JY Ko (17)

-5: Law (15)

The reigning Olympic and PGA champion Nelly Korda is the new clubhouse leader. She won’t be winning today, but having been three over for her round today through 6, she’s played the final 12 holes in one under. A 73, and she smiles broadly, just pleased to be back after the long lay-off due to the blood clot in her arm. She finishes the week at -2, and don’t bet against her retaining her PGA title at Congressional in three weeks’ time!

Tell you what, though, Harigae very nearly breaks that duck with a wonderful splash out of the sand. Her wedge batters the sand with a satisfying thwack, and the ball skirts the right-hand lip of the cup. Millimetres from that elusive birdie! Lee also splashes out close, although never threatening to hole out. Two fine sand shots from tricky positions. In go the putts for par. The 14th has really done a number on the field today.

-14: Lee (14)

-8: Choi (17), L Ko (14), Harigae (14)

-5: JY Ko (16)

No birdies today on the par-four 14th. Not one! It’s a statistic likely to be maintained as the last pair make their way down the hole: both Lee and Harigae have pushed their approaches into the bunker guarding the front right of the green.

… meanwhile on the par-three 16th, Choi Hye-jin knocks her tee shot to five feet, and confidently rolls in the birdie putt. She’s already got a second-place finish at the US Open on her resumé, albeit as a 17-year-old amateur in 2017. A second spot as a professional this time? It’s currently on!

-14: Lee (13)

-8: Choi (16), L Ko (14), Harigae (13)

-5: JY Ko (15)

Lee pulls her tee shot at the difficult par-three 13th down a warped slope to the left of the green. She bumps up, but not particularly close. Harigae however has sent a very aesthetically pleasing draw into the heart of the green, the camber offering some additional help in gathering the ball to 12 feet. She doesn’t quite hit the birdie putt, which breaks to the right as the pace dies. Par, but the chance to close the gap at the top – and more realistically, regain sole ownership of second spot – is gone. Lee rolls in a very missable ten footer to save yet another par, and she jogs off to the next tee, high on life.

Mina Harigae rocks back on her heels in irritation as a 15-foot birdie attempt slides by on 12. The jig is almost up, surely, because Minjee Lee then tickles in a left-to-right curler, dead weight, for birdie. The gap is suddenly six. Meanwhile emotional scenes on 18 as Lexi Thompson, forced to revisit her collapse last year in so many interviews, and whose grandmother passed a couple of weeks ago, finishes with bittersweet birdie and dissolves into tears. For so many different reasons, she’ll be pleased to get this tournament out of the way. A 76, and she finishes at +3. A par-par finish thankfully for her playing partner Lilia Vu. Back in 44 painful lashes for 79, and at least she avoided carding 80. Once -5, she ends the week at +6.

-14: Lee (12)

-8: Ko (13), Harigae (12)

-7: Choi (15)

The wind drops, and that allows Lee to wedge into 12 with confidence. She leaves herself a six-foot look at birdie that will surely close the door on the field. Having said that, Lydia Ko becomes only the second player to birdie the par-three 13th, rolling in a gentle left-to-right 20-foot slider, and suddenly she’s within five and in a share of second.

-13: Lee (11)

-8: Ko (13), Harigae (11)

-7: Choi (15)

Minjee Lee, of Australia, on the 12th fairway. Photograph: Chris Carlson/APThe USGA really have set up the course in a sadistic manner today. Sunday at the US Open, right here! Jeongeun Lee6 is still the only player back in the clubhouse with a round in red figures. Her two-under 69 is looking more and more astonishing as each pairing makes their way in. All of which puts Minjee Lee’s street-fighting pars on 10 and 11 into sharp relief. To remain at level par for her round today, with so much at stake and a big lead to defend, is no mean achievement.

Lee pulls her second into 11 down a swale to the left of the green. She opts to putt rather than chip, and does a pretty good job of ramming her ball back up the hill to five feet. She rattles her par putt into the cup. But Harigae can’t get up and down from the front, and at -8, just one clear of Choi and Lydia Ko, she’s now in danger of losing second spot. This could be costly, because look at the prize breakdown!

1. $1,800,000

2. $1,080,000

3. $685,043

4. $480, 225

5. $399,982

Lilia Vu’s nightmare end to this US Open continues apace. We last encountered her shipping seven shots in five holes between 9 and 13. Now she’s dropped another four in two, following up a triple-bogey eight at 15 with bogey at 16. She’s now +6, having been -5 a couple of hours ago. A very expensive back nine, especially when you consider the $10m purse on offer here this week.

Harigae chips up to six feet, then nails the par putt. She walks off, relief etched across her face and betrayed by a sharp puff of air. Lee meanwhile lags up sensationally from 50 feet and tidies up for her par. This is no longer about moving forward; it’s all about not moving backwards. Yesterday’s average round was 72.7, but today’s is 75.5 and that’s a number that won’t be getting any smaller, I’ll be bound. Meanwhile bogey for Ko Jin-young, and this is all about the top four now.

-13: Lee (10)

-9: Harigae (10)

-7: Choi (13), L Ko (11)

-4: Nordqvist (13), JY Ko (13), Law (11)

Mina Harigae looks over a putt on the 10th green. Photograph: Steve Helber/APHarigae clips a branch with her wedge in from 70 yards. This is super careless. Her ball reaches the front of 10 but topples back off the false front and away down the fairway. Lee meanwhile whips her ball out of some dead weeds, gets a hot one, and only just holds the green, a good distance from the flag. A couple of big up-and-down attempts coming up. Meanwhile an overly aggressive putt from Choi Hye-jin at the par-three 13th leads to the 22-year-old’s first bogey of the day. She slips to -7.

Yep, Harigae lays up … and makes the cardinal sin of finding more rough with her second. She’ll have trouble generating all the spin she wants from there. The door swings open for Lee, who is able to attack the green with a fairway wood … but she pulls it and sends her ball down a swale back and to the left of the dancefloor. The ball scuttles into a native area and next to another tuft of that pesky wiry grass. Par looks the most likely score for both players all of a sudden.

Welcome to the start of the 2022 US Women’s Open! Yep, the final pairing has hit the turn on Sunday, so here we are at the get-go! Mina Harigae flirts with trouble down the left of the par-five 10th, but her ball snags in the semi-rough. Minjee Lee splits the fairway. This hole has given up a couple of eagles today – to Pajaree Anannarukarn and Moriya Jutanugarn, a Thai double whammy – and what Harigae would have given for one of those right now to eat into Lee’s lead. But she’ll have to lay up from the rough.

What a two-putt par for Minjee Lee on 9! She only just finds the front of the humungous green, and races her monster putt eight feet past. The ball nearly reaches the slope at the back, but, like Frank Costanza, stops short. She rattles in the one coming back, a fearless act that she celebrates with a clenched fist and a quiet yessssss! That took some nerve. Two putts for Harigae’s par as well.

-13: Lee (9)

-9: Harigae (9)

-8: Choi (12)

-7: L Ko (10)

It’s fair to say that Pine Needles is playing like a proper US Open course today. Over three hours ago, this blog reported 2019 winner Jeongeun Lee6’s 69. That’s still the only round completed under par today! All hail Donald Ross – also architect of nearby Pinehurst – and his hellishly difficult greens.

It’s not Lexi Thompson’s day at all. Having played the front nine in one-over 36, she’s followed up with double bogey at 10 and another at 14. She’s tumbled down the rankings to +3. Thompson and playing partner Lilia Vu have been dragging each other down, it would seem: after Vu’s fine start, three under through 8, she’s tripled 9, doubled 10 and doubled again on 13. That’s seven shots gone in five holes. She’s +2. A low-energy pairing, right there.

Lexi Thompson is struggling on her final round. Photograph: Kevin C Cox/Getty ImagesHarigae races her birdie putt three feet past. Lee’s eyes light up – an opportunity to restore a five-shot lead! – but she pulls her plumb-straight birdie effort. She walks away, disappointment obvious for the first time today. Harigae makes her one coming back to save par. Meanwhile bad news for the Swedish contingent as Anna Nordqvist bogeys 10 and the amateur Ingrid Lindblad three-putts 9, the pair slipping out of the top five to -4.

-13: Lee (8)

-9: Harigae (8)

-8: Choi (11)

-7: L Ko (8)

-5: JY Ko (10)

What a response by the leader to that two-bogey wobble! Lee crashes a drive 250 yards down the middle of 8, then wedges gracefully over the flag, her ball quietly landing and spinning back to six feet. Harigae, from a similar position, pulls her sand wedge and though she’s pin high, her shoulders slump as she’s left with a 25-footer across the green. This isn’t quite a must make, but with Lee threatening birdie, it’s kind of close.

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