Golf fans were left stunned after an altercation on the green between two women on the 18th during the third round of the Australian Open.
American Marina Alex reacted angrily to Australian Julienne Soo after she finished her round on Saturday.
Alex marched towards Soo, pointing to the side of the green, leaving Soo confused. The pair didn’t complete their customary handshake at the end of the round when the crowd reacted loudly to the jab.
Nine reports that Alex was unhappy with the placement of Soo’s ball after the Aussie tried to throw it into the crowd – as is the tradition during the Australian summer of golf tournaments when he gives away balls as souvenirs.
Alex claimed the ball stayed in the bunker, while others claimed it was not in the sand but in an adjacent area near the crowd.
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West Australian diva Hannah Green, meanwhile, will enjoy the hunt rather than the hunted on Sunday as she takes aim at South Korean leader Jiyai Shin.
Shin and South African star Ashleigh Buhai overcame a trio of Australian Open contenders in a birdie blitz on Saturday, setting a tough task for home hopefuls including Grace Kim and Minjee Lee ahead of the final round.
Green, fresh off a move to the top of the leaderboard, relinquished her command of the course with bogeys on holes 4 and 10 before settling with back-to-back birdies to finish 12 under – two shots ahead of Shin.
But it is a position in which he feels comfortable.
“I probably like going in the hunt and having the lead,” the 25-year-old said.
“I was pretty disappointed with how I played, so it’s nice to at least finish on a positive note with two birdies.
“You just never know on this golf course, it starts to freeze and it depends on the wind, so you have to stay patient, which is tough.
Green said that knowing she was being chased by the likes of Shin and Buhai, she played on it at times, although missing heels when her partners made them while playing proved to be “a bit frustrating”.
“But I didn’t hit it great at all, so I can’t really complain about my round,” she added. “If anything, I should say I’m probably glad I got at least under par.
“At least if we know how the pitch will play tomorrow, we’ll see when I can be aggressive and when I can’t be. Hopefully I’ll be lucky and pick the right clubs.”
Shin, a two-time winner of the Women’s British Open, raced the fairways with competitive lighting and had shots to match, ending the day at an impressive 14 under.
The 34-year-old is one stroke ahead of second-placed British Open champion Buhai, who is eyeing a romantic triumph alongside caddy and husband David.
Shin joked after her round that she was “not 25 anymore”, but said she enjoyed playing the Sandbelt and felt confident heading into the “tough course” in Victoria.
“I always enjoy playing here. I have a lot of friends here so they make you feel confident. Great, I’m really lucky to play this event,” she said.
Behind Green, Grace Kim and Minjee Lee had respectable days in the midst of a battle to establish themselves as leaders.
Kim was particularly strong during the course of three consecutive birdies, but she lost her fourth with a tight putt on the 18th hole to finish at nine under.
She looked frustrated in the early stages of the third round but often got out of trouble.
The trio of Buhai, Lee and Kim attracted a strong crowd to play the hole ahead of the men’s leaders, with Green and Shin coming in behind the latter in a hole-hopping dream for golf fanatics.
Spectators turned out in large numbers on a warm Melbourne day, braving the 30-degree heat to shade tree-lined fairways with many fans relishing the chance to watch the women alongside the men in a first at the national championships.
Lee was her even-keeled self, also in a tough battle for family bragging rights after younger brother Min Woo shot himself in the men’s reckoning. She kept a tidy total of her own seven under.
The finishing groups completed their work Saturday amid an emphatic group of fans who lined the 18th from the fairway to the hill overlooking the green.
Lee and Green delivered big hits, sandwiched in between a standing ovation for veteran Adam Scott.
Green, Buhai and Shin will tee off at 11:34 a.m. on Sunday, after Lee, Kim and So Yeon Ryu begin their cup quests at 11:12 a.m.
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