Newsmaker of the month: Minjee Lee
The eve of the Amundi Evian Championship marked the nine-year anniversary of Minjee Lee’s historic triumph at the US Junior Girls Championship at Lake Merced Golf Club in San Francisco.
In the nine years that followed that 1-up victory over American Alison Lee, the 16-year-old from Royal Fremantle Golf Club went on to win two Australian Amateur titles, reached No.1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, won the ISPS Handa Vic Open as an amateur, turned professional and nine months later won her maiden LPGA Tour title a week before her 19th birthday.
Four more LPGA Tour titles followed along with a second Ladies European Tour win, she represented Australia at the 2016 Olympics at just 20 years of age and reached No.2 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. But there remained a glaring omission from her résumé: a Major.
What seemed on the surface to be her destiny became a recurring question with each missed opportunity, yet with a stunning closing nine and courageous shot on the first playoff hole, Lee gave the answer that cemented her place in Australian golf history.
“I’m speechless. I been waiting for this for so long,” admitted Lee, who came from seven shots behind on the final day to set a new record for the greatest comeback in a Major in the women’s game.
“I hear so many people say, ‘We really want you to win a Major’, and, ‘A Major is just around the corner’.
“It’s just really nice to have a Major title under my belt.”
Ten strokes behind Korea’s Jeongeun Lee6 at the halfway mark, Lee made up some ground with a six-under 65 on Saturday before firing a round of seven-under 64 on Sunday, including four birdies in the final five holes, to post 18-under.
Lee6 matched that total with a birdie of her own at the 72nd hole only to find the water at the first playoff hole and then watched on helplessly as Lee struck a pin-seeking 6-iron second shot to the par 5 and two-putted for victory.
Cameron Smith and Hannah Green: Came up just short of Australia’s first Olympic medal in golf, Smith finishing one shot shy of the seven-man playoff for bronze in the men’s competition while Green made a late charge only to miss the playoff for the minor medals by three strokes.
Kirsten Rudgeley: The West Australian amateur added to her victory at the Scottish Women’s Open Championship with a thrilling win in the final of the English Amateur Championship, making birdie at the 35th and 36th holes to force a playoff and then adding a third birdie to win on the first extra hole.
Emily Mahar: The Queenslander who plays college golf for Virginia Tech in the US bowed out in the quarter-finals of the US Women’s Amateur, going down to the eventual winner, American Jensen Castle, 6&5 in the round of 16.
Marcus Fraser: The three-time European Tour winner’s playing days are over, taking up the position as director of coaching at Melbourne’s Peninsula Kingswood Golf Club.
Rodger Davis and Gavin Kirkman: Davis and Kirkman both received extensions to their current positions within the PGA of Australia, Davis to remain as chair and Kirkman as chief executive until the end of 2024.
Grace Kim: Claimed her second All Women’s Pro Tour title and third pro win in the US with a three-stroke victory at the Texarkana Children’s Charities Open in Arizona.
Parkes Golf Club: With the Newell Highway upgrade’s proximity to the course’s western boundary, Parkes Golf Club will undergo a major redesign that will include six new greens, nine new tees and achieve a par of 72.
Alan Hill: The senior groundsman at Manly Golf Club in Sydney achieved a rare milestone in August, celebrating 50 years of service. One of Hill’s first tasks was to help prepare the course for the 1971 Dunlop International, getting a front-row seat to Jack Nicklaus’s course record 62 and seven-stroke win.
Sanctuary Cove Golf & Country Club: The iconic Gold Coast club has completed a $1.5 million restoration of all 18 greens on the exclusive Pines course, the largest capital investment in the Arnold Palmer-designed course since its opening in 1988.
He did what?
Cameron Smith’s T-5 at the WGC–FedEx St Jude Invitational was his best finish in a WGC event, but his putting on day two earned him a share of a PGA Tour record. Smith, renowned for his short-game wizardry, needed just 18 putts in his second round of eight-under 62, becoming the ninth player to achieve the feat and the first since Blake Adams in round two of the 2010 Verizon Heritage.
Images: getty images: Stuart Franklin, Tracy Wilcox