Posted: May 18, 2015 6:00 pm
Minjee Lee didn’t expect her rookie season on the LPGA Tour to include a victory. Now that she has proved herself wrong by winning the Kingsmill Championship, she’s thinking she can do it again.
The 18-year-old Australian, who turned professional in September, shook off a three-putt bogey on her first hole Monday morning and finished with two pars for a 6-under 65 and 15-under 269 total.
She became the third rookie to win this year and earned $195,000. Her earnings were $114,651 coming in. She’s the seven player to win an LPGA tour event before her 19th birthday.
Minjee Lee surged into the lead Sunday with a round highlighted by a five-hole stretch that she played in 5 under before darkness halted play. She returned to the Kingsmill Resort’s River Course early Monday with a four-stroke lead.
Having marked her ball about 15 feet from the hole Sunday night on the par-4 16th, she knocked her first putt about 4 feet past the hole, then missed the 4-footer, but said she didn’t let the bogey bother her.
“I didn’t think this moment would come this year, so I’m stoked to have won,” she said, while hanging around the 18th green, waiting for the morning’s final groups to finish.
“Just because I won in my rookie season, I feel like I could probably do it again. It just kind of gives me confidence that I can play out here and win out here.”
Alison Lee, who started on the par-5 15th, made birdie after Minjee Lee’s bogey, trimming her deficit from four strokes to two. But her approaches to Nos. 16 and 17 left her long putts, neither of which fell, and she made bogey at No. 18.
“On 16 and 17, I felt like I hit two good putts, but they didn’t go in,” the 20-year-old UCLA student said. “And on 18, I just kind of gave up on myself and I shouldn’t have done that. I should have finished strong.”
The result had some interesting in terms of qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open in July at Lancaster Country Club.
Neither Lee was exempt from qualifying through Sunday, and both were scheduled to play a sectional qualifier in Richmond. Va. Monday.
Minjee Lee became exempt by winning at Kingsmill. Alison would have been exempt with a sole second-place finish, as it would have put her in the top 50 in the Rolex World Ranking.
But sharing second wasn’t quite enough, and having to play at Kingsmill Monday meant she had to miss her tee time in Richmond.
USGA officials allowed Lee to attempt to qualify Tuesday in Mira Loma, Calif.
Alison Lee won the American Junior Golf Association tournament of Champions at Lancaster Country Club in 2013.
The LPGA Tour has off this week. The next event is the LPGA ShopRite LPGA Classic in Galloway, N.J. May 29-31.