Lee Storms Back in Finals
After falling 2-down to Drew Kittleson after six holes in the morning 18 of the 36-hole 2008 U.S. Amateur final being played at No. 2 today, Danny Lee loosened up.
Since tweaking his shoulder Friday morning, Lee and his caddie have both said that the first five holes of each match since then have been the toughest.
"It is really hard to swing through the ball in the early going," Lee said, "but once the temperature rises and my medication kicks in I start to feel better."
Lee certainly heated up after getting off to a cold start, as he began a remarkable run that would end up giving him a 5-up lead going into the afternoon round.
It all started on the par-4 seventh hole, when he hit his short approach to within gimmie range to capture the hole with a birdie.
At the turn, Lee found himself all square with Kittleson after winning the ninth hole with par.
From there Lee really turned up the heat, as he birdied five of the next six holes. He made a 10-footer on the par 5 10th, a 12-footer on the 476-yard par-4 11th hole and a seven-foot birdie on the short par-4 13th hole.
Lee was not quite finished.
In the back of the left side fairway bunker on the 468-yard par 4 14th hole, the ball was well below Lee's feet. Undaunted by the difficult lie, he laced an iron right on line with the stick. He won the hole with a two-putt for par.
As he stood on the 15th tee (204-yard par 3) what once had been a 2-down deficit had turned into a commanding lead for Lee, as he stood 4-up. Then he hit his tee shot dead at the flag. His shot fell short but with his putter ablaze, he made a superb stroke that sent the ball tracking towards the hole where it rode the break right into the cup. The 35-foot bomb put Lee 5-up.
Both players would par out the remaining holes.
"I am feeling really good (shoulder) right now," Lee said after the first 18 holes were completed, "and that is why I am playing so well.
This is fun. It is so cool to play in front of all these people."
Kittleson gave Lee his due, acknowledging the 18-year-old's rock-steady play. Lee, the South Korean from New Zealand, would have shot a 34-32--66 on the par-70 Donald Ross creation in stroke play.
"It's match play," Kittleson said. "He made only one bogey on No. 5, and then he made birdies on 10, 11, 13 and 15. (Then) he made 10 or 15-footers to save par on 17 and 18. What are you going to do?"
That's what his opponents have been asking all week as Lee, the top-ranked amateur in the world, has rolled through the match-play portion of the tournament.
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