Lee snagged her second major trophy last weekend––and fulfilled her childhood dream in the process. Also: a look at what’s next on the LPGA Tour, and some advice on who to watch during the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
It’s official: Minjee Lee is a U.S. Women’s Open champion. The Australian native finished off her dominant campaign last Sunday by shooting even in the final round, which helped bring her overall tally to 271 and 13-under. This is the second-ever LPGA major that Lee has won; her other victory was at The Evian Championship last year.
Lee was largely at her best throughout the Open. She managed to break a decades-old record amidst some stiff competition that included the LPGA’s respective Nos. 1 and 2: Jin Young Ko and Nelly Korda. Lee’s win brought her to third place in the rankings, a jump that’s richly deserved.
Meanwhile, American Mina Harigae experienced a different kind of success last weekend. Prior to the Open, Harigae did not have a Tour win to her name or a top ten finish in any of its majors. But on Sunday, she finished as the runner-up behind Lee, scratching the second item off that list––and suggesting that the first might be a distant memory very soon. “This is definitely the top one or two highlights of my career,” she shared after the results became official.
It’s rare for a tournament to leave both the winner and runner-up feeling like they “won,” officially or not. But that’s exactly what happened at the U.S. Women’s Open; it achieved a perfect balance of high-quality competition and rewarding outcomes.
The Future Looks Bright
Of course, all five of the LPGA’s majors hold incredible significance. But this year’s Open is extra special for a couple of reasons.
There’s obviously the hefty purse, which will see Lee and Harigae earn over one million dollars each. That type of money is game-changing for LPGA golfers––especially after the lost income resulting from the 2020 Tour’s gutting. But this year’s U.S. Women’s Open is truly one for the books because of the history its winner made on the course. With her triumph in North Carolina, Lee is now one of three Australians to hold multiple major titles in the LPGA––and the first one of this trio to win a major since 2006. In other words, her victory broke a partial drought, and could potentially trigger a brand-new wave of Australian interest in women’s golf.
“This will be huge for all the little girls and even the boys and the children watching [in Australia],” said Lee after her win. “The girls have been a lot more interested in playing, so hopefully they watch me on TV, and I can be a good role model to them, and they’ll start getting more involved.” Lee herself had dreamt of winning the U.S. Women’s Open since she was a child; that dream probably propelled her to the success she’s experiencing today. Through her victory on Sunday, Lee has planted that ever-growing seed in the minds of her young female compatriots, making this Open a win for the future of the sport.
Up next on the Tour is the ShopRite LPGA Classic on Friday. Here are a few golfers to keep an eye on as the tournament commences:
- Mina Harigae, who will hope to build off of her success at the U.S. Women’s Open
- Jin Young Ko, the world No. 1 who will attempt to remind everyone why she’s on top
- Karrie Webb, an LPGA legend who looks to bag her second-ever ShopRite win
- Céline Boutier, who will enter the competition as the defending champion
Of course, proceedings will pick back up just four days after the ShopRite LPGA Classic—this time at the Meijer LPGA Classic, which will feature world No. 2 Nelly Korda. There truly is no such thing as “rest” for fans of the LPGA. But hey––since when is being able to watch more golf (and more sporting history being made) a bad thing?