|Volume 4, Number 8, September 6, 2006|
There's a New Lee in Town
2, 3, Can
Can Open Exclusives, Wendy's Gallery, Can Open Results, Wendy's Results
Jee Young apparently enjoyed the course a great deal, as she played wonderfully on the first day. She made four birdies on the front nine, then, after a bogey on 13, finished the day with two more to shoot a 5 under par 67. For a while, that looked like it might be the best score of the day, although in the end, American Angela Stanford carded an 8 under par 64 to take a three shot lead. But Jee Young was tied for second with two other players, a wonderful start to her week.
Jee Young wasn't the only Korean to start nicely. Defending champion Meena Lee showed that she really likes the Great White North by shooting a four under par 68. Il Mi Chung, who had made her career best finish (third place) at the previous year's event, also shot a 68. Both of these ladies obviously like playing in Canada! Among the many people tied for tenth at 2 under par were Se Ri Pak, Gloria Park, Christina Kim, Sarah Lee and Young Jo. A few top Koreans, however, did not fare so well. Mi Hyun Kim, who has been having a career year, was coming off a missed cut at the British Open. The bad mojo continued on this day, as she shot a 2 over par 74. Kyeong Bae, Seon Hwa Lee and Aree Song joined her there. Jeong Jang, another Korean having a banner year, also shot over par. But there was still time to right the ship for these ladies, provided that Stanford didn't continue shooting 64s.
Jee Young slowed down a little on day two, producing a two under par
70 that consisted of four birdies and two bogies. But the other top players
also shot 70 on this day, so Lee remained two shots out of the lead, tied
with American Cristie Kerr. The big news as far as the locals were concerned
was that Lorie Kane, the most famous Canadian player on the tour, moved
to 6 under and put herself into contention. It was not clear whether her
success would be a distraction for Lee, but fortunately for her, she wouldn't
have to find out, as Kane would be in the second to last twosome on Saturday,
while Jee Young would be in the final twosome with Stanford.
Meanwhile, some of the other Koreans high on the leaderboard struggled. Meena Lee shot a one over par 73 and sank to a tie for 7th, while Il Mi Chung shot two over par and fell into a tie for ninth at 2 under total. Jeong Jang, meanwhile, shot a solid 69 to move up the leaderboard to 2 under. Se Ri Pak struggled to a 74, but her even par total was still easily enough for her to make the cut. However, what had become clear was that only one Korean was truly in contention at the moment, and that was Jee Young. With two days left, it was still possible Jang, Lee or Chung could climb back up, but for the moment, they had a long way to go to become factors again.
On Saturday, Jee Young played in the final group in an LPGA tournament for the first time since her victory at CJ. It was a tense day for her, but in general she played decently, keeping herself within sight of the top spot for the third day in a row. She shot a solid but unspectacular one under par 71. She struggled mainly with her driving, something that has tortured her all year, but her irons were solid. She made more mistakes on this day, collecting four bogies compared with five birdies. Stanford wasn't making it any easier on her. She shot a 3 under par 69 to move to 13 under par total, five shots ahead of Jee Young. Lee was going to have to go pretty low on Sunday if she were going to win. Still, her great play kept her in third place at 8 under total.
Passing Lee for solo second was none other than Meena Lee, the tournament's
defending champion. After Meena shot a 73 on Friday, it looked like she
had knocked herself out of the running. But on this day she shot a flawless
66: 6 birdies, no bogies. This moved her all the way to 9 under par, four
shots out of the lead. Like her fellow Lee, she was going to need a fantastic
round to take the trophy, but it was within her grasp. Another Korean
who fared well this day was Young Kim, who shot a 5 under par 67 that
moved her to five under total and a tie for fifth. Young Jo sat at 4 under
after a 69, while Sun Young Yoo and Il Mi Chung both were just two shots
out of the top ten at 2 under. But realistically, they were out of the
running for the title. If a Korean were going to win the Canadian trophy
this year, it was going to be someone named Lee. The only question was
whether it would be a Lee who had won the title before (Meena) or not
In the final round, Meena played with Stanford in the final group, while Jee Young Lee played with Pat Hurst in the next to last group. Meena instantly cut Stanford's lead in half when she birdied the first hole while Stanford bogied. But the lead stayed at two for a while until Stanford birdied the ninth to move to a three shot advantage. On the back nine, however, Meena completely fell apart, bogeying 12 and 13 and double bogeying 15. She ended up shooting her worst round of the week, a two over par 74, and fell to a fourth place finish. Meanwhile, Jee Young Lee got on a real roller coaster herself. After one birdie and one bogey on the front nine, she birdied 10, bogied 11, birdied 12 and bogied 13. Two more bogies near the end of her round dropped her to her own 2 over par 74, and she ended up finishing fifth. On the one hand, it was a bit disappointing, in that she really had a good chance to win her second event on this day. On the other hand, her finish was still the best since her win at CJ. All in all, she was happy with the result, while hoping her next tournament would turn out better. (The result was especially sad for her, considering that Stanford ended up falling apart at the very end, allowing Cristie Kerr, who started the day eight shots back, to win in the end. Jee Young was only five shots back at the start of the day).
In general, it was a great week for the Koreans: eight of them got top
tens. Besides the two Lees, rookie Sun Young Yoo finished 6th, Il Mi Chung
and Young Kim tied for 8th, and Gloria Park, Jeong Jang and Young Jo tied
The next week, Jee Young traveled to Portland to play the Safeway Classic. That event is detailed in another article on this site, but suffice it to say that she made a big splash there as well; indeed, an even bigger splash than she made in Canada. After a blistering 8 under par 64 to open the event, she held a two shot lead. She maintained and even increased that lead on Saturday before she began to severely struggle while playing the front nine (which was her second nine of the day). She eventually plummeted down the leaderboard, and even a brief resurgence on Sunday wasn't enough for her to get the win. Still, she managed a second straight 5th place finish, and was feeling better about her game than ever. By now, she had moved to the low twenties on the money list, and was now third in the Rookie of the Year standings, ahead of such famous rookies as Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lang and Julieta Granada. But the best was still to come.
Her next event was the Wendy's Championship for Children. The Safeway Classic is played on a course that does not set up well for Jee Young. Lee has had trouble all year with accuracy off the tee, and the tight, tree lined course at Columbia Edgewater demands driving accuracy while not rewarding those who hit it long. But the Wendy's is played at Tartan fields in Dublin, Ohio. That course is much more lenient towards players who spray it off the tee, with far wider fairways and not so many punishing situations. It seemed like a course that the long bombing Jee Young could eat for lunch. And before long, she was doing just that.
On the first day, Jee Young again got out to a great start, just like she had the two previous weeks. She played off the tenth tee in the afternoon, and birdied four of her first six holes to shoot 32 on the back nine. She bogied the first hole (her tenth), but birdied 2 and 3 and eagled 4 to vault to 7 under and the lead. One more bogey on the 6th hole gave her a total of 6 under par 66. This would eventually be good for a tie for the lead after round one, the second straight event where she had had at least a share of the first round lead. She was absolutely murdering it off the tee, driving it more than 295 yards on this day and over 290 for the week, the longest in the field. Perhaps this would be the week when she would get that second win.