LPGA Tour News: Third-Round Notes – 2023 Kroger Queen City Championship; Minjee Lee leads by 2 strokes

By Carey Van Lue

Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G

Kenwood Country Club | Cincinnati, Ohio | September 7-10, 2023

Third-Round Notes

September 9, 2023

Minjee Lee LPGA Tour. 2018 photo. By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, https commons.wikimedia.org

Course Setup: 36-36 –72; 6,407 yards

Scoring Average: R1: 71.606; R2: 71.489; R3: 72.919

Weather: Mostly cloudy becoming a mix of sun and clouds as temperatures rose into the high 70s; northeasterly winds of 8-14 mph with gusts around 15-16 mph

Race to CME Globe Points: 500 (winner)

Purse: $2 million (winner’s portion is $300,000)

TV/Streaming Times: How to Watch


Player To par Score


Minjee Lee


67-69-65 – 201


Charley Hull


67-68-68 – 203


Peiyun Chien


66-64-73 – 203


Morgane Metraux


68-66-70 – 204


Madelene Sagstrom


69-68-68 – 205


Yuka Saso


69-66-70 – 205



Major-championship venue Kenwood Country Club played the hardest so far during the third-round of the Kroger Queen City Championship, giving several players who dominated the course during rounds one and two trouble on Saturday in Cincinnati. Second-round leader Peiyun Chien, who entered the day with a four-stroke lead over the field, scraped out a 1-over 73, with four bogeys and a double on the card, after two season-low rounds of 66 and 64. Rolex Rankings World No. 2 Ruoning Yin, who was T2 and bogey free through 36-holes, began the day with three bogeys in her first three holes. And, Nasa Hataoka shot an even par 72 on Saturday, just one day after tying the tournament 18-hole scoring record with a 9-under 63 on Friday.


Of the 80-player field, major-champion Minjee Lee fared the best at Kenwood CC on Saturday, shooting a 7-under 65 on the course that played more than a stroke harder compared to rounds one and two. Lee started off with three birdies right off the bat, an impressive feat especially on the par-4 No. 1, which played the hardest on Saturday with a scoring average of 4.49 and only three birdies made there all day. She made the turn in 33 at -11 overall, but quickly added two birdies on 10 and 11 to take the lead from Chien. She continued her streak of steady play with pars on 12 through 14 before adding two more birdies on 15 and 16 to increase her lead to three strokes at the time. With two more pars, she was able t­­o finish her round bogey-free, one of just two players to do so on Saturday. Playing in the third-to-last group on Moving Day, Lee came into the clubhouse at -15 overall while Chien and Charley Hull, who finished the day T2, continued to try and close the gap.


Obviously it’s nice to get off to a fast start. Birdied the first three holes and kind of got nice momentum going into the back half of the round…” said Lee, who is a two-time major champion and eight-time LPGA Tour winner. “I just wanted to make more birdies after that. But the greens are so firm and really bouncy, so some of the holes you can – obviously you can bounce it off the front and bounce it short, but some of them are really unpredictable. I think it was just playing the course shot by shot, and coming down the last few holes, it got quite gusty and windy. I think overall I played really solid, and I was able to read the wind and the greens pretty well.”


With a 54-hole lead, Lee is almost unbeatable, winning in five of the seven instances she has held that position. The Australian was a two-time winner last season, earning her second major-championship victory at the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open. But she hasn’t yet achieved victory in 2023. She came close at the Cognizant Founders Cup in May but lost in a playoff to Jin Young Ko. Since then, her game has been trending upward, with one top-10 finish and 6 top-20 results in her last nine starts.


I think it’s always really hard to back up an amazing year with another really amazing year. You have high expectations, and I think managing that is probably the hardest thing because you know you’ve been there, so it’s like, oh, why can’t I do that every week,” Lee said of her season. “But obviously you can’t because you’re human. I think just resetting my goals and trying to stay in the present I think has really helped, and I’m more of a one-shot-at-a-time kind of girl, and I know I can play and hit the ball well and putt well.”


Englishwoman Hull began her day with a double on No. 1 but kept the card bogey-free from there, with seven birdies on the day. Through three rounds, she has made just three bogeys or worse, good for least in the field along with Lee, Yin and Andrea Lee. Chien finished the day -14 and in solo second, the same position she held after Thursday’s opening round. Her 36-hole score of 130 was a career-low for the Chinese Taipei golfer, who shot a Friday 64 to take the first 36-hole lead of her LPGA Tour career. Chien, who said she felt pressure holding the lead, “because I know everybody can shoot 6 or 4-under pretty easy on this course, and I feel pressure if I didn’t play well,” also doubled the first hole and made the turn +3 with two birdies and three more bogeys on the front. She fought back with a birdie on No. 10 and three more on 14, 16 and 17 after another bogey on 13. Looking to finish the day with an even 72 and in solo second, Chien ended with another bogey on 18 after her approach shot sailed the green and she was unable to convert a 5-foot putt to save par.  


Yeah, my start I was already 2-over, so I’m still thinking back nine has a lot of birdie chances I can make. Just stay patient and just trust yourself, play the best I can do,” said Chien, adding that she was proud of herself from fighting back “because I can trust myself better, trust myself that I can win on the LPGA for sure. Just need to stay patient and play every shot I can do and talk clear the carry to my caddie and commit every shot. I think I can do it for sure. I want to do it in my life.”


Morgane Metraux holds the solo fourth spot after a -2, 70 round on Saturday, while Swede Madelene Sagstrom and major-champion Yuka Saso sit at T5 after shooting 68 and 70 respectively. Defending champion Ally Ewing is -6 overall and is T15 heading into Championship Sunday. The American Solheim Cup participant held the lead going into the final round at last year’s inaugural event.




Minjee Lee

2023 Race to CME Globe Points List


2023 LPGA Tour Wins


2023 LPGA Tour Top 10s


2023 Season Earnings


Career LPGA Tour Wins


Career LPGA Tour Top 10s


Career Ladies European Tour Wins


Career Money




Rolex Rankings No. 13 Minjee Lee

  • Lee made seven birdies in her bogey-free round of 65
    • She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens during the third round
    • Lee had a total of 25 putts through 18 holes
      • Through three rounds, she has needed 82 putts total, tying for the second least putts in the field
    • She is one of two players to go bogey free during Saturday’s round, along with Paula Reto
      • With just three bogeys across three rounds, she is tied for least number of bogeys
    • Her 18 birdies across three rounds is the second best amongst the field
  • Lee’s 65 is for her second lowest round of the 2023 LPGA Tour season
    • Her lowest round of the season is a 64 during the second round of the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open
  • Her third-round 65 also ties her second best third-round score
    • She has shot 7-under four other times in her career in the third round
    • The last time she shot 65 in her third-round was at the 2021 Amundi Evian Championship, which she went on to win
  • This will be the eighth time in Lee’s LPGA Tour career that she will head into the final round as the leader or co-leader
    • Of the previous seven times, she has won five times
    • The last time Lee led headed into Sunday was at the 2023 Cognizant Founders Cup, where she lost in a playoff to Jin Young Ko
    • The last time she successfully held the lead was at the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open
  • Lee headed into the third round in 7th place after rounds of 67 and 69
  • This is her second start at the Kroger Queen City Championship
    • In 2022, she missed the cut
  • This is Lee’s 15th start of the 2023 LPGA Tour season
    • Her best finish this season is a runner-up finish at the Cognizant Founders Cup
    • Lee has made the cut in all 15 of her official starts this year
    • She has two top-10 finishes this season, most recently a tie for 7th place at the Dana Open
    • She represented Australian earlier this season at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown
  • This is Lee’s eighth season on the LPGA Tour
    • She is an eight-time winner on the LPGA Tour
      • Her most recent win was at the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open
      • She also has one additional major victory at the 2021 Amundi Evian Championship
    • She has 67 career top-10s on the LPGA Tour



  • Two players are T2 after the third round
    • Two-time LPGA Tour winner Charley Hull shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday
      • She is one of four players to shoot all three rounds in the 60s
      • She has made just three bogeys or worse in three rounds, tied for least in the field with three other players
      • Hull has three runner-up results this season, most recently at the AIG Women’s Open
      • This is Hull’s first appearance at the Kroger Queen City Championship
    • Second-round leader Peiyun Chien is T2 after shooting a first-round 66, second-round 64 and third-round 73
      • She had never held a 36-hole lead on the LPGA Tour before Friday
      • Her first-round 66 and second-round 64 were her low rounds of the season
      • Her 54-hole score of 203 ties her second lowest on Tour
      • She missed the cut in the 2022 playing of the Kroger Queen City Championship
      • Chien’s highest finish on Tour is a T3 result at the 2017 Dana Open
  • World No. 2 Ruoning Yin has a chance to move to World No. 1 with a top finish this week
    • Yin is currently T8 at -9 overall
    • She has finished in the top three in her last four starts on Tour
    • She could move to No. 1 in the following scenarios:
      • Win
      • Seven-way tie for second or better
      • Three-way tie for third or better
      • Solo fourth
  • Nasa Hataoka tied the 18-hole tournament scoring record with a 9-under 63 on Friday
    • It was Hataoka’s lowest round of the season and it ties her second-lowest 18-hole score on Tour
    • The single-round scoring record at the Kroger Queen City Championship was set in 2022, the inaugural playing of the event, by Jeongeun Lee6
    • Hataoka is T10 after round three
  • Defending champion Ally Ewing is T15 and -6 overall
    • Ewing held the 54-hole lead at last year’s inaugural playing
  • Gabriela Ruffels is the only one of the three sponsor invites to make the cut
    • Ruffels is T27 and -4 heading into the final round
      • She recently clinched her LPGA Tour card for the 2024 season after claiming her third victory on the Epson Tour this year
  • Two players made holes-in-one during the second round
    • Olivia Cowan made a hole-in-one on the 8th from 154 yards using her 7-iron
    • Jodi Ewart-Shadoff hit her 8-iron 161 yards to make an ace on No. 3
  • Eighty players made the cut at -1 after 36-holes
    • Notable players to miss the cut are 2023 U.S. Women’s Open champion Allisen Corpuz, both Monday qualifiers, Faith Kilgore and Wenbo Li, and Jeongeun Lee6, who finished solo fourth in the event last year
  • Albane Valenzuela withdrew after nine holes of her second round



Ariya Jutanugarn on the conditions of the course during the third round

Yeah, I would say today is pretty tough. The greens are so firm. Even if I have like 100 yards to the green, I can’t like promise it’s going to be on the green. You kind of have to think a lot and trust your decision a lot, so it’s quite hard to approach to the green.”


Minjee Lee on staying patient after a great 2022 season

“Yeah, I think it’s always really hard to back up an amazing year with another really amazing year. You have high expectations, and I think managing that is probably the hardest thing because you know you’ve been there, so it’s like, oh, why can’t I do that every week. But obviously you can’t because you’re human. I think just resetting my goals and trying to stay in the present I think has really helped, and I’m more of a one-shot-at-a-time kind of girl, and I know I can play and hit the ball well and putt well. 136616-2-1002 2023-09-09 21:10:00 GMT Page 1 of 2 I think it’s just managing my expectations and seeing where it ends up. It is what it is.”


Morgan Metraux on making five birdies on her back nine to finish near the top of the leaderboard

“I just jokingly said, let’s just make it easier on ourselves on the back nine. I knew the 10th hole was reachable from the tee, so I knew I could get one back there, which I did, and that kind of started the streak. I hit a good shot on 11, which was a tough win, so it was a good par. Just I don’t know, I hit a few really good shots in a row and made a few putts, and it was just really solid. I didn’t quite hit all my spots on the front nine, and then I did on the back nine, and a few more putts dropped.”


Madelene Sagstrom on her eagle on the driveable par-4 10th

“Yeah, we could reach 7, too, today, a little downwind, so I kind of made a little bit of a boo-boo there, hit a great tee shot and then hit it over the green, so I was like, okay, I want a rematch, I want to do this again. I just hit a great tee shot. That funnels really nicely if you hit the right spot and get a good kick, so I hit a good tee shot and then the putt wasn’t that crazy long, but it fell right in. That always helps momentum, especially when you’re waiting a lot. It was just nice to get those two.”



Third Round Highlights | 2023 Kroger Queen City Championship

Minjee Lee Third Round Highlights | 2023 Kroger Queen City Championship

Minjee Lee’s third-round scorecard

Madelene Sagstrom Making Moves on Saturday in Cincinnati

Minjee Lee Storms to 2-Shot LPGA Lead in Cincinnati

Yuka Saso nearly aces the 14th!



18 holes: 63, Nasa Hataoka, second round, 2022; Jeongeun Lee6, second round, 2022

36 holes: 131, Jeongeun Lee6, 2022

54 holes: 200, Ally Ewing, 2022

72 holes: 266 (-22), Ally Ewing, 2022