Minjee Lee wins US Women’s Open, record .8 million prize

Minjee Lee wins US Women’s Open, record $1.8 million prize

SOUTHERN PINES, NC – Australian Minjee Lee won the 2022 US Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club on Sunday by five strokes after shooting an even par 71 in the final round to finish 13 under the tournament and secure the second major victory of his career.

Lee’s win nets her $1.8 million – the biggest payout in women’s golf history – as part of the US Open’s record $10 million purse.

“I mean, I’m speechless,” Lee said on the 18th green after lifting the trophy. “It’s the one I always wanted to win and now I did.”

Twenty-one years after fellow Australian Karrie Webb won the US Open at the same venue, Lee held onto her four-stroke lead after three rounds and held off 32-year-old American Mina Harigae, who entered the week having never finished in the top 10 of a major and finished second at 9 under.

On Saturday, Lee said he exchanged text messages with Webb, whose caddy in 2001 at Pine Needles was Jason Gilroyed. Gilroyed was also on the bag for Lee this weekend, but as Lee pointed out, the course has changed so much over the years that there was no natural advantage in having him on his side.

The distance allowed Lee to succeed at Pine Needles. On Saturday and Sunday, Lee was consistently ahead of Harigae by 30, 40, even 50 yards or more. Lee said the extra time she’s been putting in “hard time” at the gym lately has helped her slowly increase her swing speed, which has resulted in longer drives.

“Obviously if you have a shorter club you can be a bit more aggressive,” Lee said on Saturday, effectively summing up his 67 on Day 3 and anticipating what was a similar story on Sunday. “But it doesn’t matter how far I can hit it, because the second shot is what counts.”

Although she wasn’t the most accurate on the court on Sunday, Lee’s consistent length allowed her to earn shots with her approach shots. She placed in the top five for greens in tournament regulation and was in the top 10 for shots gained on approach, around the green and putting. After 72 holes, Lee left no doubt that she was the best player on the course.

Lee, 26, won his first major last July at the Evian Championship in France when he erased a seven-stroke deficit and beat South Korea’s Jeongeun Lee6 on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff. Lee has also had two third-place finishes at major tournaments in his career – at the British Open in 2020 and the ANA Inspiration in 2017. His best finish at the US Open before that tournament was tied for 11th in 2017.

Later this month at the Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club in Washington DC, Lee will attempt to become the first player to win back-to-back majors since Inbee Park won the first three majors of 2013.

World No. 2 Nelly Korda (2 under) finished tied for eighth in her first tournament since undergoing surgery for a blood clot in her left arm. South Korea’s Jin Young Ko, the world’s best player entering this tournament, finished tied for fourth at 6 under, while world No. 3 player Lydia Ko finished fifth at 5 under.

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