Aussie Lee tames howling winds to lead Vic Open

Golf ball (Getty Images)
Golf ball (Getty Images)

Geelong - Australia's Min Woo Lee mastered treacherous conditions to lead the innovative Vic Open Saturday, with South Korea's Ayean Cho heading the women's field after a battling sub-par round.

Swirling wind made scoring extremely difficult around the 13th Beach Golf Links in Geelong, south of Melbourne, at an event where men and women tee off, in alternate groups, on the same course and for equal prize money.

It is the only tournament of its kind in the world and has been running as a dual event for seven years. But it took on added significance last year with the European Tour and the US-based LPGA Tour jointly sanctioning it for the first time.

Lee, the younger brother of world number nine women's star Minjee Lee, sunk a tricky eagle putt on the last despite gusts rocking his ball to card a four-under-par 68.

It left him three clear of fellow Australian Travis Smyth and veteran Marcus Fraser as he targets a maiden win on the European Tour.

"I think it was probably one of the best rounds I have ever played," said 21-year-old Lee.

"Regardless of score, I've hit pretty solid. There were couple of bad shots, but that happens in 50 kph winds. I should be proud of the way I played."

Fraser, who carded a 69, said: "That's probably as strong a wind as I've played in anywhere," with the 41-year-old adding he almost lost his footing on the 18th.

"If it's blowing me over, it must be strong."

Lee's sister Minjee made a birdie on the 18th to be seven-under for the tournament, five behind Cho as she looks for a third Vic Open title and sixth on the LPGA Tour.

Cho, who plays mostly on the Korean Tour, stroked a 70, with a birdie on the last giving her the outright lead, one clear of Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom and two ahead of Canadian Alena Sharp.

The conditions were so difficult that only five women were able to shoot sub-par rounds.

To accommodate the dual fields, there were two cuts -- one as usual after round two, and another reducing the men's and women's fields to 35 players after 54 holes.

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