Minjee Lee - where will she stop?

July 06, 2022 | R. Forgues


Minjee Lee, where will she stop?

For years, the reins of world golf belonged only to its must famous icons. Laura Davies in her day, Karrie Webb or more recently Inbee Park are some of the players who have dominated their discipline a head above the rest, to the point of almost forgetting they had competitors.  But success has reasons that defy reason itself, and like in all fields, time has brought its fair share of change to the sport.  On the PGA Tour for example, where the world number one spot is more sought-after than ever. The LPGA Tour also seems to be an increasingly open tour.  The 2021 edition of The Amundi Evian Championship was no exception to this rule. While all eyes were on Nelly Korda - who had an outstanding season including a Gold medal a few weeks later at the Tokyo Olympics - in the end it was Minjee Lee who was victorious after much suspense and an unexpected playoff against Jeongeun Lee6.  By winning the event, the Australian became part of a very select club, that of the major champions.

A new status, which in the sporting world, always requires a little time to adjust to. For Minjee Lee, this didn't last long. By skipping the ISPS Handa World Invitational week following her win in Evian, the former amateur world number 1 chose to give herself a little space to recover from her emotions.  Back on the LPGA Tour for the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, she didn't make the cut for the second time of the season, painfully alternating bogeys and birdies on the stunning course at Dumbarnie Golf Links (Scotland).  The week didn’t seem to bother her that much as seven days later, she had a remarkable 5th place finish at the AIG Women's Open (a major) before moving on to produce four consecutive Top 25 finishes at her final four tournaments of her 2021 season.

It was against this backdrop and with her status as an elite player that Minjee Lee commenced her 2022 season at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, one of the most important events of the year - aside from the majors - at which she was close to pulling off a feat. Distanced by Jin-Young Ko, the tournment leader, she shot seven birdies on the back nine on the Sunday to finish runner-up just two shots off the play-off.  Countless noteworthy performances then followed, such as her wonderful 3th place finish at the DIO Implant LA Open, before finally holding high another trophy in May at the Cognizant Founders Cup in New Jersey (USA). Three weeks later, she claimed her second major championship victory by comfortably winning the US Women's Open, with a 4-shot lead on the runner-up Mina Harigae and six ahead of the South Korean Hyejin Choi.  Satisfied but never replete, Minjee Lee continued her dream season at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in Maryland, USA, where she lost out on the title to In Gee Chun by one shot.

Just imagine: since August 2021 and her difficult week a few days prior to her win at The Amundi Evian Championship, Minjee Lee has not missed one cut. Even better, her least favourable finish remains an honorable 25th place at the Cognizant Founders Cup 2021.  Needless to say that she’s not heading to Evian to make up the numbers and intends on  giving herself every chance of holding onto her title.  Since her victory in Haute-Savoie (France) last year, she has always achieved a Top 12 finish at the Majors.  It would seem that her first Grand Slam win has given her wings, and now it’s up to her to take care of them if she wants to fly again at this event, which will always have a special place in her heart.  In the place where it all began.