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Former champ Minjee Lee in three-way tie for US Women's Open lead

Minjee Lee of <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/australia-women/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Australia;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Australia</a> plays a tee shot on the way to a share of the third-round lead in the US Women's Open (Sarah Stier)

Former champion Minjee Lee fired a four-under par 66 to join a three-way tie for the US Women's Open lead on Saturday alongside Andrea Lee and overnight leader Wichanee Meechai.

Australia's Lee, who won her second major title at the 2022 US Open at Pine Needles, matched the best round of the week at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania, firing an eagle, three birdies and a bogey to join the top trio on five-under par 205.

Thailand's Wichanee, who has never posted a top-10 finish at a major nor won an LPGA title, held her nerve as the tension ratcheted up on the back nine, finishing with three birdies and two bogeys on 69 -- her third straight round in the 60s.

Andrea Lee, a former amateur standout from California, had five birdies and two bogeys in her 67 to put herself in prime position to strike for a first major title on Sunday.

The leading trio were two strokes in front of Japan's Hinako Shibuno, who had seven birdies in her 66 for 207.

Compatriot Yuka Saso, who won this championship when she played for the Philippines in 2021, carded a 69 and was a further stroke back on 208.

Minjee Lee, who started the round thee shots off Wichanee's lead, jump-started her round with an eagle at the seventh, where her approach from the fairway took an "amazing kick" off the raised edge of the green and left her less than two feet from the pin.

"I thought the golf course was set up really well for moving day, round three," the Aussie said. "There was a lot of opportunities for birdie out there."

Back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12 -- with putts of two and four feet -- saw her tied for first at five-under.

After a bogey at the 14th, Lee drained a 17-foot birdie at the 16th to regain a share of the lead.

"It didn't feel super-simple, but I just tried to stick to my game plan, tried to make birdies, just stayed in the moment," she said.

Only five players were under par for the tournament through 54 holes as low scores remained tough to come by after a brutal first two days saw world number one Nelly Korda headlining a list of big names to miss the cut.

Wichanee said she enjoyed the big galleries following the last group, but admitted she battled fatigue throughout the round as she sought to keep her grip on the lead.

"I feel so tired, to be honest. But just have to be positive and then have fun on the course," she said.

"I was so excited this morning because all the par-fours, two sides of the hole, it's like filling with all the crowds."

- No bad thoughts -

The 31-year-old from Bangkok launched her round with a 22-foot birdie at the first and birdied the par-five seventh.

She bogeyed the 10th and 14th, -- her second bogey coming after the last group was put on the clock for slow play.

She said her first reaction, to play faster "doesn't work for me," so she tried to calm down and stay focused and got back to five-under with a three-foot birdie at the 15th.

Several key saves kept her among the leaders, including a par from the creek bank at the fourth and a 12-foot par putt at 16.

"I think my focus on the game is pretty good today," said the Thai, who on the advice of her manager turned off her social media to avoid any added pressure. "I hit a lot of bad shots, but I don't have any bad thoughts about my swing or about the result at all."

America's Lee, ranked 49th in the world, was pleased to play a bogey-free back nine, her birdies at the 15th and 16th vaulting her into a share of the lead.

"Overall I just played really solid, steady golf and had a few putts drop, which is nice to see," the 25-year-old said.

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