Golf

Lee poised to pounce at Open

Minjee Lee
Minjee Lee drives at Royal Lytham and St Anne’s. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Australian Minjee Lee kicked sand in her own face, but remains perfectly poised at the halfway point of the Women's British Open.

Lee trails Pornanong Phatlum by a single stroke after the diminutive Thai posted her second successive bogey-free to reach 10 under at Royal Lytham and St Anne's.

Lee leads a new-look Aussie assault into the weekend of the year's fourth major championship with youngsters Su Oh and Hannah Green advancing, along with Rebecca Artis, who made the Open cut for the first time in six attempts.

Lee will start in the second last group out tonight, alongside Japan's Mamiko Higa and in front of Phatlum and Englishwoman Georgia Hall.

And while that won't faze the Perth prodigy and world No.8, it could so easily have been Lee – and Higa, for that matter – in the final pairing bar a couple of late mishaps in round two.

Lee, the world No.8 already enjoying her best LPGA Tour season, had reached 12 under with her fifth birdie of the day at the par-five 15th.

But some directional issues on the 16th were compounded by an inability to escape a series of bunkers on that and the 17th and she dropped three shots in a heartbeat to post an otherwise exemplary 70.

"On 16, I just hit the wrong shot, the wrong line, and I got stuck in the bunkers and made double," Lee said candidly.

"Two bad holes today, but the rest were pretty good."

The 21-year-old said the famous Lancashire links had played differently compared to her late tee time on day one, but her great mindset was reflected in her ability to brush off her troubles.

"I'm hitting it solid, I'll just go out there and try to have fun."

The largely unheralded Higa, of Japan, was similarly 11 under until she, too, took a double-bogey from nowhere on the 17th.

Neither Phatlum nor Hall have made a bogey through 36 holes.

Melburnian Oh closed strongly with a birdie on the last, her fourth for the day, for a 70 that enabled her to stay in touch at one under.

New South Welshwoman Artis, in her eighth major championship and yet to make the weekend, was really impressive in going out in two-under-par 33, then fought gallantly coming home to card a fine 71 and join Oh in a share of 31st.

Green, of Perth, played possibly her best round in of months to keep her major dream alive, firing four birdies to scythe through the field after he opening 75.

The LPGA Tour rookie made two bogeys on the back nine, but immediately hit back with birdies each time to sign for a 70 that enabled her to make the cut on the number at one over.

The hard-luck story belonged to Queensland veteran Katherine Kirk, who closed with two bogeys in her 71 and fell one shot shy of weekend action at two over.

Karrie Webb shot an even-par 72 but finished at five over, while Sarah Kemp (+7) and Sarah Jane Smith (+12) made an early exit.

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