Southern Pines, N.C – Australian Minjee Lee captured her first U.S Open championship at Pine Needles and took home the largest payday in Women’s golf history – $1.8 million at the Donald Ross gem – Pine Needles Golf Club.
Lee ranked No. 4 in the world was rock solid all week, she began Sunday with a three-shot lead, and played steady golf en route to a four-shot win over Nina Harigae, finishing at 13-under after a closing final-round 71.
Some tough hole locations, testy winds, and firm conditions made for a worthy test, but the Aussie was up to the challenge (only Hyejin Choi (70) and 2019 champion Jeongeun Lee6 (69) – broke par). The final-round scoring average of 75.2 was easily the highest of the week at Pine Needles. Minjee Lee finished seven shots ahead of Hye-Jin Choi in third place and she posted the lowest 72-hole total in US Open history.
“I’m speechless, I can’t believe it right now, It’s been my dream since I was a little girl, the one I have always wanted to win,” Lee said. “With a little bit of nerves, overall I think I did a pretty good job.”
Lee’s even-par 71 gave her a 72-hole total of 13-under 271, enabling her to eclipse the 72-hole scoring record of 272 shared by Juli Inkster, In Gee Chun and Annika Sorenstam.
Mina Harigae, from Monterey, California entered Sunday three strokes back of Lee, hung tough all day to shoot a 1-over 72 and finish solo second at 9-under 275, becoming the first runner-up in women’s golf to take home a $1 million dollars.
“This is definitely top one or two highlights of my career,” said Harigae, who is still searching for her first win on the LPGA Tour in her 13th season. “Obviously, just the prize money [$1.08 million], but solo second in a major, and that’s my best by far. Really happy with it.”
Lee started the final round with two straight birdies, but gave them back with bogey’s on the par-3 fifth and par-4 seventh. Minjee converted clutch par saves at the ninth, eleventh, thirteenth, and fourteenth to keep her challengers comfortably in the rearview mirror.
“I didn’t hit it that well,” said Lee. “I had really good saves, up-and-downs from a lot of the places, and then finishing I had a couple of birdies and a couple of bogeys. I think that was enough to get it done today.