WOBURN – It wasn’t the record breaking 62 she posted on Thursday, but the one-under par, 71 that Mirim Lee carded on Friday was enough to keep her atop the leaderboard at the RICOH Women’s British Open. Lee holds a one-stroke lead ahead of Shanshan Feng and Ariya Jutanugarn at 10-under par. 2009 champion Catriona Matthew carded the low round of the day with a 65 to pull within two strokes of Lee and sit in a share of fourth with Ha Na Jang at nine-under par.
“Yeah, today the tee shot was a little bit difficult,” Lee told the media. “I had issues with my tee shot. I think I putted okay. I had a couple of three putts but I think with some practice I can overcome my mistakes today.”
Lee struggled with her driver on day two, hitting just 10 of 14 fairways with 33 putts, but says the work she put in with her instructor, Tony Ziegler, is beginning to pay off.
“Most focus on addressing and direction, and also when I take back my swing, my club face tends to be shut a little bit, so we work on that, keeping it a little open,” Lee said about what the pair have been working on with her swing.
This is the third time this season Lee has held at least a share of the lead in the first or second round of a major championship. She held a share of the 36-hole lead at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with Brooke Henderson, where she finished T-4 for the week. Then at the season’s next major championship, opened with an eight-under par, 64 at the U.S. Women’s Open where she followed with rounds of 73, 76, 73 to finish in a share of 11th.
“When I shot eight-under at the U.S. Women’s Open, I still felt like I left some shots out there. I tried, my aim was to try to be consistent for all four rounds,” said Lee. “I think with more practice, I was able to do that.”
Shanshan Feng captured her first major championship in 2012 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and is in the hunt for her second major this week, sitting just one-stroke back of Lee heading into the weekend. She followed her opening round 66 with a 68 on Friday to remain within striking distance of the lead.
“I started the round really hot today,” Feng told the media. “I mean, I had four birdies in the first seven holes, and I was five-under through 10. I made a couple bogeys maybe in the middle there, misjudging about the wind. But the birdie on the last hole made me really happy, so made the lunch feel better I think.”
Catriona Matthew missed just one fairway and one green on Friday en route to a seven-under par, 65 for her first sub-70 round in this event since 2013. Matthew sits just two-strokes back of the lead heading into the weekend.
“That's probably one of the best rounds I've played,” Matthew told the media. “I think I hit 18 greens today. Just one awful shot on 16 but then followed it probably with my best shot of the day, the 4-iron on to the green. Gave myself a lot of chances and holed my fair share of them today.”
The 1995 rookie is one of the few players in the field who played this event when it was last held at Woburn Golf Club in the mid-1990’s. The Scotland native plays some of her best golf in this event, winning the 2009 RICOH Women’s Open and posting five more top-10 finishes.
Friday afternoon, Ha Na Jang made a charge up the leaderboard, joining Lee at 11-under par with her seventh birdie of the day. But Jang stumbled down the closing stretch, making bogey on two of her final three holes to card a second round 67 and fall back to nine-under par and into a share of fourth with Matthew. Jang is a two-time winner in 2016 who went wire-to-wire to capture the Coates Golf Championship in February and won the HSBC Women’s Champions in March.
The projected cut line is expected to fall at one-over par, sending home several notables including Suzann Pettersen at three-over par, Ai Miyazato at four-over par, and Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie all at five-over par.