Golf: Lee leads in Raleigh

Danny Lee. Photo / Getty Images.
Danny Lee. Photo / Getty Images.

Just one round of golf separates Danny Lee from putting one foot on next year's PGA Tour.

Lee continued his recent resurgence on the Web.com Tour, shooting an eight-under-par in today's third round to move into the lead at the Rex Hospital Open in North Carolina.
Lee now sits on a 17-under total from three rounds and leads the pack by four strokes as he seeks his second tour win - and perhaps an even greater prize.

If he manages to hold his advantage in tomorrow's final round at TPC Wakefield Plantation, Lee would pocket the lion's share of the $800,000 purse and skyrocket up the Web.com order of merit.

Lee, who came into the tournament in 23rd place on the money list, would move to No 3 on the rankings and sit comfortably inside the top-25 cut-off for players who automatically punch their ticket for next year's PGA Tour.

The world No 289 played on the United States' top tour in 2012 but lost his card and missed out by one shot at the final stage of qualifying school, consigning him to the Web.com Tour.

But his stay on the second-tier tour may be a brief one, especially if he can repeat his dazzling form from moving day in Raleigh. Lee notched eight birdies while hitting 17 greens in regulation, leaving him understandably satisfied with his day's work.

"I thought everybody was playing good so I was just focusing on each shot and trying to make as many birdies as possible,'' Lee told the PGA Tour website. "I shot eight-under, what could go wrong?''

The 22-year-old, who last week finished tied for 15th at the Air Capital Classic, has made a number of promising starts on tour this year but has been unable to make it back into the winner's circle, something he is hoping to change.

"I don't want to think ahead right now. This is only the third round,'' said Lee, who has managed six top-25 finishes in 12 starts in 2013. "I just want to play another round of golf and see what happens.''

Meanwhile, Lee is not the only Kiwi golfer chasing a win in the United States. Teen phenom Lydia Ko is right in the mix as she seeks her second career victory in the LPGA Tour, sitting three shots off the lead heading into the final round of the NW Arkansas Championship.

Ko, 16, began the three-round event with a two-under 69 but made a big improvement in today's second round, firing a five-under 66 to move within striking distance at the $2.7million tournament.

The world No 1 amateur, who previously bested the professionals at last year's Canadian Open, is using the event in Arkansas as preparation for a tilt at next week's US Open in New York, where she will seek to become the youngest ever major winner.

- APNZ

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