GALLOWAY, N.J. (AP) — Jeongeun Lee6 was finishing up a lackluster second round Saturday at the ShopRite LPGA Classic before buckling down over the final two holes.
Standing at 1-over par for her round after 16 holes, the reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion put together a birdie-eagle finish, sinking a 4-foot putt at the par-5 18th, to grab a one-stroke lead after 36 holes.
Lee6 shot a 2-under-par 69 at the windswept Bay Course at Seaview to move to 10-under 132. She will enter Sunday’s final round for the $262,500 first-prize check seeking to become only the fifth player in LPGA history to win the Women’s Open and the following tournament in back-to-back weeks.
Louise Suggs (1952), Jane Geddes (1986), Se Ri Pak (1998) and Meg Mallon (2004) are the others to have accomplished the feat.
“My shots were pretty good. It’s just my putting and it was not good enough,” Lee6 said through an interpreter. “But I know 16, 17, 18, the yardages are pretty short. I know 16 I could have done a little bit better but holes 17 and 18, I think I did pretty good with it.”
Mariah Stackhouse, who contended at this event last year and finished in a tie for seventh, shot a 67 and held second place with a 133 total in her quest to become the first African-American woman to win an LPGA Tour event. She said it is something she will not think about Sunday when she’s on the course.
“I would only really think about that after the tournament is up,” Stackhouse said. “Every single shot, that’s all I’m concerned with, is getting that number right, putting the right club in my hand and executing a solid shot. So there’s just no time for your mind to wander to any other things until the round is up.”
Lexi Thompson four-putted No. 1, her 10th hole of the round, for a double bogey but recovered with an eagle and two birdies for a 70 that put her into a three-way tie for third at 134 with Ally McDonald (67) and Nanna Koerstz Madsen (68).
Sei Young Kim, seventh on the LPGA money list, and Sandra Gal each shot a 68 and Yu Liu had a 69 to tie for fifth at 135. Marina Alex, who is from Wayne, New Jersey, posted the low round of the day — a 66 — and was part of a group of four 136.
Scores among the 72 players who teed off in the morning were lower after the wind kicked up around noon and blew steadily at around 20 miles an hour. Among the top 12, only Thompson, Koerstz Madsen and Liu began their rounds in the afternoon.
Lee6, who shared the 18-hole lead with Pornanong Phatlum, was 1-over for her round after a bogey at the par-4 15th. But she finished strong, holing a 17-foot putt at the short par-3 17th for her fourth birdie of the day, and knocking a 6-iron from 185 yards out to set up her short eagle putt at 18.
In her two rounds, she has two eagles, 13 birdies and seven bogeys.
Phatlum followed her 63 on Friday with a 77 Saturday that she closed out with an eagle at 18. Defending champion Annie Park missed the cut of even-par 142, coming in with a 74 for 143.