Mirim Lee clings to a slender lead heading into the third round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship over the Marquess’ course at Woburn.
The South Korean went into the second round with a three shot lead after carding an opening ten under par 62 but saw that advantage cut to one after adding a one under par 71 which still sees her go into the third round tieing the Championship’s 36-hole scoring record on 11-under par 133.
Lee’s nearest rivals are China’s Shanshan Feng and Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn who carded rounds of 68 and 69 to slip into a share of second place on 134.
The biggest move of the day came from 2009 champion Catriona Matthew who fired a flawless seven under par 65 to finish tied with South Korea’s Ha Na Jang on nine under par 135 and a single shot ahead of 2014 champion Mo Martin.
Lee speaks very little English but for the second day in a row she let her clubs do the talking with a round which combined three birdies on the 4th, 7th and 14th with her first dropped shots of the Championship at the 13th and 17th.
“Today I had issues with my tee shots but I think I putted okay,” said the South Korean through an interpreter. “There was a little bit of nervousness but after the first few holes you forget about it. You need a bit of nerves to make you play better.”
Feng was out in the first match in the morning at 06.30 but she quickly stirred into life with four birdies in her first seven holes before another birdie on the last saw her home in level par 36.
“That birdie made lunch taste a lot better,” said the former LPGA champion from Guangzhou. “I’ve brought my A-game with me this time. I would say I’m not thinking about the others. I think I just need to worry about my own golf and just play like the first two days.”
Jutanugarn has risen to sixth place on the official Rolex Ranking on the back of three consecutive victories earlier this season on the LPGA Tour and she is still on course to registering a first Major win after playing her last ten holes in three under par.
The Thai player let one chance slip at this year’s ANA Inspiration but now feels much better prepared to handle the special pressure involved with coming down the stretch in the Majors.
“I think I learned how to play under pressure. How to play excited. I really want to focus on what I’m doing and what I can control. At the ANA I didn’t do that. I just focussed on the result.”
One player who is not short of experience at any level is Matthew who was recently described as one of Britain’s most under-rated athletes by a leading sports administrator. She has been plying her trade on Tour since the mid-1990s but still rated her round right up there among the best of her career.
“That’s probably one of the best rounds I’ve played,” confirmed the Scot. “I think I hit 18 greens today. I hit one awful tee shot on 16 but then followed it with my best shot of the day, a 4-iron onto the green.”
Jang looked set to challenge compatriot Lee for the lead after racing to the turn in four under par 32 and then adding further birdies on the 12th, 14th and 15th but late bogeys on the 16th and 18th saw her drop back into the tie for fourth place with the veteran Scot.