After winning the Hugel-Air Premia LA Open on Monday, Korean Australian golfer Lee Min-jee, 23, shouted with joy as other South Korean players, including the oldest Korean player Ji Eun-hee, sprayed her with water to celebrate.
Lee once said that getting along well with other Korean golfers, such as Ji, Kim Hyo-joo, Park Sung-hyun, and Heo Mi-jung helped her a lot. On Monday, Lee won her first LPGA title of the season, outperforming other Korean golfers. With the victory, Lee’s world ranking jumped from fourth to second.
During the fourth round of the Hugel-Air Premia LA Open at Wilshire Country Club (par-71), Lee reduced three strokes to win the event with a 14-under par, edging out Kim Sei-young, who came in second, by four strokes. Lee Min-jee earned 225,000 U.S. dollars in prize money.
This was her fifth LPGA title after she last won the Volvik Championship in May last year. The LPGA said Lee Min-jee ranked second in world rankings following Ko Jin-young.
Lee got off to a good start this season, coming in second twice and third once. After winning, Lee said she wanted to dedicate the trophy to her caddie Jason Gilroyed and his mother, who is battling cancer.
Born to an amateur golfer father and a professional golf coach mother in Australia, Lee was a young prospect, who reached No.1 in junior world golf ranking. Lee, who finished the 2015 LPGA Qualifying School in first place with Allison Lee, did not get along with other Korean golfers when she was still a rookie. “Lee, who was born and raised in Australia, was a bit shy with other Korean golfers when she was younger,” said Park Paul from Lee’s agent Hana Financial Group. “She was once scolded by a Korean golfer for speaking only in English even though she knew how to speak Korean.”
Staring the round with a one-stroke advantage, Lee reduced two strokes early in the round to lead by four strokes. Later in the round, Kim Sei-young, in her usual red pants, birdied three holes in a row to pull within two strokes, but that did not affect Lee. Following a birdie at the 13th hole, Lee shot a 4.5-meter birdie successfully in the 18th hole and claimed her first victory of the season.
Jong-Seok Kim email@example.com