Minjee Lee celebrates winning the BMW Ladies Championship.
Minjee Lee's victory at the BMW Ladies Championship catapulted her back into the world's top five. Image by AP PHOTO
  • golf

Soaring Minjee Lee threatened 59 in renewed Saudi duel

Ian Chadband October 28, 2023

Minjee Lee has continued the dazzling form that’s driven her to two victories in her last three tournaments and even briefly flirted with a 59 in her opening round of the Aramco Team Series event in Saudi Arabia.

Yet, remarkably, the two-time major winner still found herself upstaged at the lucrative event in Riyadh by an even more astonishing round from Alison Lee, the American she beat in a playoff at the BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea last weekend.

Minjee Lee ended up with a brilliant nine-under 63 to kick off her latest bid for glory in the 54-hole event on Friday – but still found herself two shots behind the US player, who equalled two Ladies European Tour records en route to her 11-under 61.

Alison Lee made a record-equalling eight successive birdies at the Riyadh Golf Club and also matched the lowest round in LET history shared by Kirsty Taylor and Jessica Korda.

“A dream round. I wish every day felt like this. I was telling my caddie, ‘gosh golf is so easy!’. Obviously I don’t say that every day – but it was one of those days,” the American said after recording 11 birdies.

Alison Lee
 Alison Lee enjoyed a “dream round” of 61 which sees her lead her Australian namesake by two. Image by AP PHOTO 

“But I’m not disappointed. I had a great round today, overall I played really solid.”

But Minjee Lee, too, must have entertained thoughts of a sub-60 round, as she followed up her front-nine of 31 with five birdies in a six-hole stretch from the 10th hole.

She just missed a chance at an 11th birdie on the 16th but then spoiled a breathtaking card with her bogey at the par-three 17th. A par at the last sealed a 63, which had been decorated with 10 birdies in all.

“I played really really solid,” said the 27-year-old Australian in typically understated fashion.

“I made a ton of birdies and had four birdies in a row so that was really nice. I’ve been hitting it really solid and come into this week with a lot of confidence from last week. I had another really great day.”

Fresh from her emotional Korean win that’s thrust Minjee back to No.4 in the world rankings, she’s now set for another terrific duel with her namesake.

“I played one round with Alison last week and then obviously beat her in a playoff,” the Australian said.

“She’s got such great talent and I’ve actually known her for quite a while. We rookied together [on the LPGA] in the same year. We’ve both been on Tour nine years and it’s always nice to have great competition. That’s what we play for.”

Behind the Lees’ show, eight others shared third position on seven under – Czech Jana Melichova, Italy’s Virginia Elena Carta, Denmark’s Nicole Broch Estrup, Scotland’s Kylie Henry, Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg, Wales’ Chloe Williams, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda and England’s Charley Hull.

The individual competition runs alongside a team competition, with Lee’s quartet in joint-third place two shots behind the joint-forerunners, led by Ciganda and Bronte Law.