In Lancaster, an epic Sunday awaits at the U.S. Women’s Open

minjee lee stands in front of the leaderboard on saturday at the U.S. Women's Open

Minjee Lee shares the lead with Wichanee Meechai and Andrea Lee heading into the final round at Lancaster Country Club.

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LANCASTER, Pa. — Minjee Lee entered the interview area following her third round at the U.S. Women’s Open with a smile plastered across her face.

While many players have come off the course this week at Lancaster Country Club looking beaten and battered, Lee stood tall, having finally delivered a counterpunch to William Flynn’s brutish design. She fired the round of the tournament on Saturday, carding a four-under 66 to secure a spot in the final pairing Sunday.

“It didn’t feel super simple, but I just tried to stick to my game plan, tried to make birdies,” Lee said. “Obviously I wanted to have a good score on round 3, Moving Day. I knew there was going to be some opportunities with some of the tees up for birdies, so yeah, pretty much I just tried to take it step by step as you do as a U.S. Open and just stayed in the moment.”

Lee executed that game plan to perfection with three birdies and an eagle. She ceded ground just once, a bogey on No. 14, en route to a four-under round on a day where the scoring average was two over.

Her third-round charge endeared the Aussie to the central Pennsylvania crowd, so much that they rained down several Let her cook! shouts from the bleachers in a nod to her brother, Min Woo, who competes on the PGA Tour.

“I think a couple others are probably going to be on the same score as me,” Lee said. “So [it might be] a shootout, depending on how the course is set up tomorrow.”

She’s correct on one count in that assessment — Wichanee Meechai and Andrea Lee are tied with her heading into the final round at five under — but don’t expect the course to be set up for a shootout. Through three rounds, the scoring average at Lancaster is 74.3, with just five players under par through three rounds.

If Lee wants to replicate her 2022 U.S. Women’s Open title, she’ll have to fight off a couple scrappy underdogs in Meechai and Lee. Neither entered the week on the short list of contenders, but each has played their way into a tie for the 54-hole lead.

andrea lee reads a putt while wichanee meechai swings
Andrea Lee and Wichanee Meechai enter Sunday tied for the lead at Lancaster Country Club. GOLF.com / Jack Hirsh

For Lee, Sunday will represent a chance for validation. After an amateur career that saw the California native ascend to the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking, success has not been as easy to come by in the pro ranks. She’s won just once on the LPGA Tour and owns just two top 10s in 16 major starts. In less than 24 hours, she’ll have a chance to rewrite that narrative of underachievement.

“I’m just steadily getting a little bit better every year and just finding my rhythm out here on Tour,” she said after her third-round 67. The 25-year-old is one of just two players this week — along with Meechai — to be under par in all three rounds. “I feel really comfortable, especially this season. I feel like this is the most comfortable I’ve felt out here and the most fun that I’ve had since turning professional.”

Meechai, the most unlikely of the three names sharing the top of the leaderboard, will look to play the role of spoiler during the final round. At No. 158 in the Rolex Ranking, the journey-woman will look to become the first qualifier to win the U.S. Women’s Open since Birdie Kim in 2005.

“I hit a lot of bad shots, but, you know, like I don’t have any bad thoughts about my swing or about the result at all,” Meechai said. “I’m just staying in my zone and trying to keep going and then be patient.”

Patience will be key on what is sure to be a stern test during the final round at Lancaster Country Club. But if one thing is certain, it’s this: Sunday of this U.S. Women’s Open is sure to be a thrill.

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.

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