Min Lee made a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th for a 4-under 68 and two-stroke lead Saturday in the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship.
Coming off a Symetra Tour victory, Lee also birdied the par-5 15th and par-3 17th to pull away from former Stanford player Lauren Kim and Finland’s Matilda Castren.
“I just tried to play my game and tried to be smart on the golf course, because the golf course is very hard,” Lee said. “There are some pin placement that you want to be on the fat side of the green if you miss it. So I was very focused on it.”
The 26-year-old Lee, from Taiwan, is trying to win for the first time on the LPGA Tour. She won the Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship two weeks ago in Florida on the developmental Symetra Tour, putting her in position to become the first player to follow a Symetra Tour victory with an LPGA Tour win in her next start.
“I don’t really thinking about making a record or breaking a record or something,” Lee said. “I just try to play my game. I play well, that’s good and everything comes together.”
Lee had a 9-under 207 total at Lake Merced as the tour completes its San Francisco Peninsula doubleheader after the U.S. Women’s Open last week at nearby Olympic Club.
Castren shot a 69, and Kim had a 71.
“I really like it,” Castren said about Lake Merced. “It’s very similar to Olympic that we played last week, so I feel like that was a really good prep for me coming into this week.”
Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela, another former Stanford player, had a 68 to join 2000 U.S. Women’s Open champion A Lim Kim (69) at 6 under.
Second-round leader Danielle Kang closed with a double bogey for a 74 that left her at 5 under with Lindsey Weaver (69), Jenny Shin (70), Jennifer Kupcho (70) and Jenny Coleman (71).
Lydia Ko (70) was 4 under with ANA Inspiration winner Patty Tavatanakit (71), 18-year-old Bay Area player Lucy Li (70), Ashleigh Buhai (70) and Yealimi Noh (71).
Lexi Thompson had a 70 to get to 3 under. Last Sunday at Olympic, she blew a five-stroke lead, playing the final seven holes in 5 over to finish a stroke out of a playoff that Yuka Saso won. Saso and Women’s Open playoff loser Nasa Hataoka skipped the event at Lake Merced.
Michelle Wie West, playing the weekend for the first time in five events this year, shot a season-beat 69 to get to 1 under. She opened with rounds of 73 and 75 to make the cut on the number.