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Muirfield 2022

Minjee delighted with putting


Australian fires opening-round 68

Minjee Lee of Australia looks on on the 11th hole during Day One of the AIG Women

Minjee Lee was delighted with her putting game in trying conditions on day one at Muirfield.

The world number two posted an opening-round 68 to sit just three shots off the lead, but was one of few players who fared better after the turn.

She was level-par through nine but birdies at 12, 14 and 17, the first couple of which were particularly impressive, ensured she arrived at the clubhouse in the red.

“I made really quite a few good up-and-downs on the back nine and to be 3-under the back nine, I think is quite good considering like 14 and 15, they play really tough,” she said.

“You know, I feel like the wind got up -- it was pretty similar to yesterday when I played in the Pro-Am, so I think I got a little used to the conditions while I was out there yesterday.”

Patience was a key theme of Thursday’s action, with the conditions changeable and scoring opportunities at a premium. That environment, Minjee felt, encouraged her to take her time with each shot.

“It is so windy," she explained. “I think it is easier to take one shot at a time. I think if it was maybe a little bit easier conditions, then maybe you could get ahead of yourself or have different thoughts here and there.

“But I feel like I was quite committed on every shot that I hit because it was so windy, and I just think I did that really well today.”

Minjee, along with Jin Young Ko and Nelly Korda, made up the pick of the day one pairings.

And it was the Australian who fared best, with Korda (70) fading slightly after a majestic start while Ko (76) surprisingly struggled on her return to the AIG Women’s Open.

That said, Minjee is relishing the opportunity to share the course with her fellow major winners for a second time, on Friday.

“We flowed really good and it was not that slow,” she said. “Nelly made a few birdies and an eagle, and that was kind of nice to see. So we could get something rolling, too. It was a fun group.”

America’s Korda was ultimately left to rue missed putts at 13 and 15. She gave herself good chances for par on both occasions after superb recovery shots from bunkers, but left both holes with bogeys.

She did make it third time lucky on the 18th, however, ending her round on a high note.

“That was nice to end the round on a really good par save,” she said. “I was getting some unfortunate breaks in the bunkers.

“I was actually hitting it really decent out of those lies. I wasn't sure if I was going to first get my club to come down at a steep enough angle and then for the ball to come out high enough over the lip, so I was actually impressed with myself, a little pat on the back after those.

“I just couldn't make the par putts after, that's probably even more frustrating than having a 20-footer for par and missing that."

Despite the difficult moments, Korda enjoyed the unique challenge a links course like Muirfield poses, though it is one she is glad she does not have to encounter too often.

“It's cool that the front nine is the outer part and the back nine is the inner part and every hole is different,” she said. “You really have to concentrate.”

“You have to play around with a lot of different swings. I mean, I hit an 8-iron 190 and then I hit a 4-iron 180 today. That's the AIG Women's Open, but I think it's fun.

“It's nice to do it once or a couple times a year. I wouldn't do it every week, but it's a lot of fun.”

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