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Winning a Major is supposed to be hard, or at least look hard, but Minjee Lee sealed her second with ease, capturing the 77th US Women’s Open by four shots from Mina Harigae at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club.
Lee added a level-par 71 to rounds of 67, 66 and 67 for a 271 total to follow in the footsteps of Karrie Webb and Jan Stephenson and become just the third Australian to win this great championship.
Ahead of the final round, Lee said her goal was to make as many birdies as possible, and, true to her word, the 26-year-old got off to the perfect start with back-to-back gains at the first and second to extend her overnight three-shot lead. And despite the calibre of players in the chasing pack, Lee never truly looked under threat, answering every question that arose on the North Carolina layout.
Bogeys at the fifth and seventh took her back to level par for the day approaching the turn, where she proved she has the grit to go with the talent, holing three crucial par putts in a row from the ninth to the 11th to consolidate her dominant position.
From there, it was plain sailing for the 26-year-old, who quickly rediscovered her tee-to-green prowess to birdie the 12th and 15th and all but guarantee victory. And were it not for two missed short putts - on 16 and then 18 - she would have done so courtesy of four consecutive rounds in the 60s.
Alas, it wasn’t to be, but that will be of little concern for the two-time Major champion, who is set to pocket a record $1.8 million for her efforts.
RETWEET to congratulate @MinjeeGolf!Minjee Lee's dream comes true with a win at the #USWomensOpen. pic.twitter.com/eWm52ZW8FyJune 5, 2022
“I’m speechless, I can’t believe it right now,” Lee said. “It’s super, super special. It’s been my dream since I was a little girl, it’s the one I always wanted to win and now I’ve done it, it feels amazing.”
Referencing the record prize purse on offer this week, Lee added: “We’re moving in the right direction and it’s only going to get better from here. It’s such a large sum and I’m really honoured to be the first winner.”
Playing partner Harigae was Lee's closest challenger, but the American failed to establish the early momentum she required, only picking up her first birdie of the day at the 15th in a final-round 72 that saw her finish on her own in second.
Behind Harigae, Hyejin Choi took solo third thanks to a three-birdie 70 that was just one of two under-par rounds, as Pine Needles proved a stellar but fair test for the world’s best.
World No. 1 Jin Young Ko birdied two of her last four holes to seal fourth ahead of her namesake, Lydia Ko, who looked like setting the clubhouse target before a faltering finish saw her drift down the leaderboard into fifth place.
Elsewhere, Anna Nordqvist and Bronte Law tied for sixth on four-under, two shots ahead of World No. 2 Nelly Korda, who was making her first appearance since February after undergoing surgery for a blood clot in her arm.
A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
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