“Hot Six” Lee Jung-jeong, 27, won the second round of the Bank of Hope Match Play ($1.5 million purse) on the U.S. Women’s Professional Golf (LPGA) Tour.
Lee defeated fellow South Korean Ye Eun Hong, 21, by two strokes (2&1) with one hole to play in the second round of the group stage of the tournament at Shadow Creek Golf Course (Par 72) in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, on Saturday.
Lee, who had taken a two-hole lead into the 16th hole against Sophia Schubert (USA) the previous day before dropping the last two holes to draw the match, won the match to move to 1-1 and earn 1.5 points. She also moved into a tie for first place.
Lee is looking to bounce back in match play, having missed the cut in her last four events in six tournaments this season. Match play can be a new motivator for Lee, as she only has to focus on winning each hole in a one-on-one match against her opponent.
The 64-player field is divided into 16 groups of four for three days of group play, with only the first-place finisher in each group advancing to the round of 16. Lee, who has one win and one draw, will face top-ranked Brooke Henderson (Canada – 1-1) in her final group match on Sunday. She must win to advance to the round of 16 on her own. Lee, making her third appearance at the event, has never reached the round of 16 before.
In her match against Hong Ye-eun earlier in the day, Lee took a three-shot lead into the 11th hole and cruised through the match. Lee made bogey on the 13th (par-3), which Hong saved with a par, and then capitalized on a double bogey by Hong on the 15th (par-4) to regain a three-shot lead.
Lee bogeyed the 16th (par-5) to cut the deficit to two, but a par on the tiebreaking 17th sealed the victory.
“I’m very happy to get the win today,” Lee told the LPGA after the match, “I played well enough to win yesterday, but the wind got too much in the second half and I lost my shot feeling. I was really disappointed with how I played yesterday, so today I tried to stay focused in the second half and play as hard as I could.”
“I think I need to win tomorrow (against Henderson) to make it to the round of 16,” said Lee, who played well in the second half. He’s not an easy player, so I’m going to stay focused until the end.” “This course is as difficult as a major, and it’s hard to make birdies. I’m going to focus on my game as much as possible, make pars and my chances will come.”
There were a number of wins for Korean players on the day. Kim Se-young (30) defeated Sarah Kemp (AUS) by two strokes to move to 1-1, while An Na-lin (27) and Hae-ran Hae (21) also earned one-stroke victories over Linnia Stromm (SWE) and Frida Sinnert (SWE), respectively.
Arim Kim (28) held a one-stroke lead over Lindsey Weaver Wright (USA) before dropping shots on the back 18 to settle for a tie. Kim is still winless and has one draw and one loss.
Defending champion Ji Hee Lee (37), who won the previous day, fell three shots short with two holes remaining against Maddie Shrike (CAN). Ji-Eun Shin (31) also fell short by one hole to Riona Maguire (IRL).
Returning World No. 1 Jin Young Ko (28), Hyo Joo Kim (28) and Ji-in Jeon (29) did not compete in the tournament. Only two players in the world’s top 10, Lilia Boo (No. 4-USA) and Henderson (No. 8), were in the field. 안전놀이터
Boo, the highest-ranked player in the field, fell to Alban Valenzuela (SUI) in straight sets, leaving her with a 1-1 record, while Henderson also fell to Schubert, leaving her with a 1-1 record.
Nine players – Carlota Zimda (Spain), Cheyenne Knight (USA), Pajari Annanarukarn (Thailand), Leona Maguire (Ireland), Maya Stark (Sweden), Ayaka Furue (Japan), Allie Ewing (USA), Celine Boutier (France) and Anna Nordqvist (Sweden) – earned two straight wins to advance to the round of 16.