SOUTHERN PINES — Minjee Lee has fulfilled a childhood dream in becoming a U.S. Open Champion.
The 26-year-old from Perth, Australia, never opened the door for anyone to challenge the 3-stroke lead she held on Sunday to start the final round of the 77th U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club.
Lee maintained, at minimum, that lead throughout the day and after a strong birdie-birdie start to stretch her lead to 5 strokes, no one really challenged her.
“I mean, this is pretty special,” Lee said following her victory. “This is the one I’ve always wanted to win since I was a little kid, so it just feels pretty amazing to be able to get it done today. I just can’t believe it.”
The course played markedly tougher on championship Sunday.
Fellow competitor Kelly Norda, who is the No. 2 ranked player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and finished tied for eighth, commented on course conditions.
“It was definitely a battle out there,” Norda said. The greens kind of got a little crispy. Pins were obviously (tough). The wind was definitely gusting a little, as well.”
Moriya Jutanugarn, of Thailand, winner of the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek Club in Alabama, finished tied for 11th this year.
“Every day this week (the course) seemed to play a little firmer,” Jutanugarn said. “The wind picked up a little more than yesterday, everything out here is a little more tough today.”
To add to the impressive nature of the finish by Lee, out of the 70 golfers in the field on Sunday only five, including Lee, finished with scores even or better.
Lee takes home a record purse of $1.8 Million as well as exemptions into the next five Chevron Championships, KPMG Women’s PGA Championships, AIG Women’s British Open Championships, and Amundi Evian Championships as well as Exemption on LPGA Tour for next five years.