Three Australians currently sit inside the top 10 at the Cognizant Founders Cup at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, N.J.: co-leader Sarah Kemp, 2022 LPGA Tour rookie Stephanie Kyriacou and defending champion Minjee Lee. Lee backed up a first-round, 4-under 68 with a second-round 3-under on Friday, making two bogeys and five birdies to sit at 7-under and one back of the lead heading into the weekend in the Garden State. The two-time major champion opened with two birdies in her first three holes to get to 6-under, but she dropped a shot with a bogey at the par-4 fifth hole. Quickly recovering with a birdie on No. 6, Lee grabbed another birdie on the par-5 ninth hole to turn in 33 and move to 7-under overall. The Aussie cooled on the back nine, making seven pars, one birdie on No. 12 and one bogey on the par-4 16th hole to post a round of 69 and put herself squarely in the mix with 36 holes left to play.
“I actually haven't really been thinking too much about the defending champion bit, but I just wanted to have two good rounds to start the week, and I'm in a good position for the weekend,” said Lee, who hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens on day two. “I'm just going to stick to my game plan, hit good drives, hit good shots into the greens, and hit good putts. That's all that I can control.”
If she were to hoist the trophy come Sunday, Lee would be the first player to successfully defend her title since Jin Young Ko did so at the HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore earlier this season. Achieving that feat will be a tough test as Lee is in her fourth consecutive week on the road, a month-long stretch that included a major at The Chevron Championship and an international team competition at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, where Lee helped lead the Australia Team to a runner-up performance. But Lee doesn’t seem to be fazed one bit, crediting rest and recovery as the reasons why she’s been able to play such stellar golf over an extended period of time.
“I think good sleep and good recovery, make sure your body is not tight, do your stretching and keep hydrated. I think just don't over-practice, just practice the things that you need and do the smart things, now that it's my fourth week on the road,” Lee said. “Last week was really fun, International Crown week. I got to have a really fun week with the girls. I feel like I had good days and not that great of scoring days, but I think finishing off the week I was striking it really well, so kind of brought good momentum into this week.”