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Australian golfer Minjee Lee leads US Women’s Open by three shots with one round to go in North Carolina

Minjee Lee is threatening to run away with the spoils after storming to a three-shot lead in the third round of the US Women’s Open in North Carolina.

Lee fired a 4-under-par 67 on Saturday to surge to 13-under at Pine Needles Golf and Country Club, a course with a history of dominating champions.

The past three third-round US Women’s Open leaders at the venue have won the championship, including Lee’s fellow Australian Karrie Webb in 2001, leaving the 26-year-old well placed to claim her second career major.

The in-form world number four started the day slowly, making bogey at the fifth hole to fall two shots behind halfway co-leader Mina Harigae.

But Lee bounced straight back with a birdie on the sixth followed by a burst of four successive birdies from the ninth to the 12th holes to sixteen command.

“I was pretty solid all day,” said Lee, the LPGA Tour’s 2022 scoring-average leader and winner of her last stroke play tournament leading into this week.

“I was making parts when I needed to.

“I made one bogey, but four birdies around the turn.

It was really nice to get those going and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

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Lee overturned a seven-stroke final-round deficit to snare her first major, the Evian Championship in France last July.

But she is in a very different position this time around in her quest to join Webb (2000 and 2001) and Jan Stephenson (1983) as the third Australian to win the US Women’s Open.

“It’s totally different. [At] the Evian I was kind of in a go mode, trying to make as many birdies as I could, trying to catch up,” Lee said.

“I’m just going to be really focused tomorrow, take each shot as it comes and try and execute 100 per cent what I’m thinking.

“On the par fives I can be pretty aggressive.”

It looks like Australia’s Minjee Lee (left) or American Mina Harigae (right) will win the year’s fourth women’s golf major.(PA: Chris Carlson)

Harigae’s round of 70 was enough to secure a place alongside Lee in Sunday’s final pairing at 10 under.

England’s Bronte Law (68) is outright third at 7-under but six shots off the pace in what looks a two-way battle for the $US1.8 million ($2.5 million) winner’s check — the biggest prize in women’s golf history.

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