WOBURN, England – Mirim Lee followed her opening 10-under 62 with a 71 on Friday in the Women’s British Open, leaving her a stroke ahead entering the weekend at tree-lined Woburn Golf Club.
A day after matching the tournament record and falling a stroke short of the major championship mark, the 25-year-old South Korean player had three birdies and two bogeys to reach 11-under 133.
“Today, the tee shot was a little bit difficult,” Lee said. “I had issues with my tee shot. I think I putted OK. I had a couple of three-putts, but I think with some practice, I can overcome my mistakes.”
Lee had two front-nine birdies, bogeyed the par-4 13th, birdied the par-5 15th and bogeyed the par-3 17th on the Marquess Course, the hilly, forest layout that is a big change from the seaside links that dominate the tournament rotation.
Three weeks ago at the U.S. Women’s Open, Lee opened with a 64, then followed with rounds of 74, 76 and 73 to tie for 11th. The two-time LPGA Tour winner missed the cut in the ANA Inspiration to start the major year, and tied for fourth in the KPMG Women’s PGA.
“I think it’s just a result of all the hard work I put in and, I think, most importantly, I’m just trying to have fun,” Lee said about her improved play in the majors. “That’s what’s making me feel comfortable.
Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and China’s Shanshan Feng were tied for second.
Jutanugarn had a 69. She won three straight events in May.
“I like this style so much,” Jutanugarn said about the course. “I think it fits my game. I like the course. I like everything here.”
Feng shot 68.
“I really like the course,” Feng said. “Normally, my ball-striking is not bad, so I know I’m going to hit a lot of fairways and greens. It really matters if my putting is working or not. In the past two rounds, I think my putting has been really good, so I made a lot of birdies.”
South Korea’s Ha Na Jang (67) and 46-year-old Scot Catriona Matthew (65) were 9 under.
“I’ve been playing well all year,” Matthew said. “Today, I just played really well. Hit 18 greens. Gave myself a lot of chances. The putts actually dropped today.”
Jang was upset about slow play on the back nine.
“It’s like at the front nine, just play every hole, no slow play,” Jang said. “But back nine is more windy and the more times, really late. And players a little tired, so walk slow, a little slow. The play at every hole, just stop on the tee box and second shot.”
Mo Martin (68) was 8 under, and fellow American Stacy Lewis (70) followed at 7 under.
Martin won the 2014 tournament at Royal Birkdale.
“It’s definitely a departure from links,” Martin said. “Parts of it remind me of the Pacific Northwest but there are some linksy styles in there, some of the fescues, some of the bunkering. I just love it in England.”
Lewis also is a past champion, winning at St. Andrews in 2013.
“Especially making the turn, I wasn’t really in a good place,” Lewis said. “Kind of rallied on the back and made three birdies to give myself a chance this weekend. I like where I am. Usually in these things, if you can get out there and post a number, that’s usually what wins.”
Charley Hull, the 20-year-old English star playing on her home course, had a 70 to move into a tie for 10th at 5 under. She had five birdies in a six-hole stretch in the middle of the round. “I kind of holed a few putts that I wasn’t holing and I got up-and-down,” Hull said. “I was pretty happy. I just kind of dug in.”
The fast-playing Hull was put on the clock for slow play late in the round.
“It was a bit pointless, but it’s stuff that you’ve got to deal with,” Hull said.
Hamilton’s Alena Sharp leads the Canadians in the field. The Olympian recorded an even-par round and sits T15 at 4-under. Sherbrooke, Que., native Maude-Aimée Leblanc is tied for 33rd at 2-under, while Sharp’s Olympic teammate, Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., holds a share of 47th at 1-under.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko was tied for 56th at even par after a 70. She’s coming off a victory two weeks ago in Ohio, her fourth LPGA Tour win of the year. She won the ANA Inspiration in April.
Michelle Wie missed the cut with rounds of 76 and 73.
Third-ranked Inbee Park, the winner last year at Turnberry, is sidelined by a lingering left thumb injury. She hopes to be ready to compete for South Korea in the Olympics.