Jeehae Lee takes a one stroke lead into the final day of the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open, having carded a two-under par 70 in Thursday’s second round.
The Korean 27-year-old, who is based in Orlando, Florida, finished on a two-under par total of 142 with a round to play at Archerfield Links, near North Berwick in East Lothian.
Lee carded three birdies and two bogeys going out for one-under outward total of 35. She equalled that score with three birdies and two bogeys coming home.
The Ladies European Tour rookie explained how she had an eye for the pine tree-lined golf course, but also for numbers, having graduated from Yale University with a degree in economics.
During her time at Yale, Lee stopped playing golf for three years as she ‘lacked passion’ for the game. However she re-joined the golf team in her senior year.
“I found that my golf game was still intact and I could still compete and thought I could actually be kind of good at this,” Lee said. “It was more I thought I could excel at it than the passion. But then as I started playing, I really started loving it.”
After discovering the passion, she turned down a lucrative job at investment banking firm Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong to pursue her dream of being a professional golfer.
After playing on the Duramed Futures Tour and the LPGA Tour in America, she qualified for the Ladies European Tour in December.
Now she has a chance to claim her first major career title on a course a stone’s throw from Muirfield, where her countryman Jin Jeong became the first Asian player to win the British Amateur Championship in June.
“I’m finally learning how to play a links style golf course,” said Lee, who first experienced links golf when trying to qualify at Hillside for the recent Ricoh Women’s British Open. “I kept it pretty steady on the front nine. There were a couple of the par-fives that I could reach. On the back nine I started hitting it a little bit off line off the tee but managed my way around.”
At the other end of the experience spectrum, England’s Trish Johnson managed to finish in second, despite being frustrated with her second round of 74.
The 19-time tournament champion, who opened with a 69, said: “I played pretty rubbish yesterday and got away with it and today I just played rubbish. I hit the ball shockingly. I didn’t hole anything. I think that was probably the difference. I holed quite a few putts yesterday and today I hit a lot of good putts that lipped out or slid by.
“I was one under with four to play. I hit a dreadful tee shot off six, awful second shot into seven and an even worse shot into eight. I’ll go to the range and hope that I can start finding the middle of the clubface, because it’s becoming quite frustrating.”
There were five players in a group two shots back on one-over par: Rebecca Coakley (70), Sophie Walker (70), Stefania Croce (74), Nikki Garrett (74) and Christel Boeljon (75).
Virginie Lagoutte-Clement and Stacy Lee Bregman were at two-over, while Cassandra Kirkland from France fired a hole in one at the eighth and finished in a five-way share of 10th place.
Scotland’s Vikki Laing was the leading home player and will start the final round six shots off the pace after a second round of 74.
In the Pro Am format, Italy’s Anna Rossi and Archerfield member Mark Finnie combined for a total of 18-under par and led by one stroke.
The leading 15 amateurs who made the cut will play alongside their professional partners in Friday’s final round, which starts at 8.30am and will be played in three-balls.
Lee will tee off in the last match at 10.30am alongside Johnson, partnering Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen and play is scheduled to conclude at approximately 3.30pm.