World No.2 Minjee Lee is within reach of another Major award as the women’s game moves to the links of Scotland for this week’s Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open.
As the DP World Tour extends its stay in St Andrews for the Hero Open, the LPGA and Ladies European Tour will tee it up 2.5 hours away on the west coast where Dundonald Links will play host for the first time since Karrie Webb was runner-up to Lee Mi-hyang in 2017.
It is where Aussie Rebecca Artis triumphed in 2015 and serves as the primary tune-up for next week’s AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield.
After falling away on the weekend of her Amundi Evian Championship defence last week, it is an opportunity for Lee to reset ahead of her bid for a second Major championship in the same season.
A four-stroke winner at the US Women’s Open at Pine Needles, Lee was also runner-up at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Those performances are the cornerstone of the 84 points she has accumulated in the Rolex Annika Major Award, players who finish in the top 10 in any of the five Major championships earning points towards qualifying for the award.
To win the award at season’s end, a player must also have won at least one of the season’s five Major titles with the winner of the Rolex Annika Major Award to be recognised at the Rolex LPGA Awards banquet.
A two-time Greg Norman Medal winner, Lee currently has a 24-point buffer from fellow 2022 Major winners Jennifer Kupcho (Chevron Championship), In Gee Chun (KPMG Women’s PGA) and Brooke Henderson (Amundi Evian Championship) and will be one of the first groups out on Thursday evening AEST.
It is a welcome return to links golf for Lee as she moves past her uncharacteristically up-and-down performance at Evian.
“I feel like I made a lot of birdies, but I also had some quite large scores on a few holes and made a few soft bogeys here and there,” Lee admitted.
“(Links golf) is a totally different mindset, really. You kind of assess the golf course when you play your practise rounds.
“I think I still don’t understand it but I don’t think anybody does because it can really give you anything. Obviously the weather is really dependent on how tough like links golf can play.
“The beauty of it is that it’s always different. I don’t know what to expect on the day, so you’ve really got to take it one shot at a time.
“That’s what makes it so great.”
After top-35 finishes at Evian, Hannah Green and Stephanie Kyriacou will hope to transfer last week’s form to the stunning Scottish links while Whitney Hillier can add to her outstanding season on the Ladies European Tour.
Currently eighth on the Order of Merit, Hillier has five top-10s on the LET this season including a runner-up result at the Jabra Ladies Open, a tournament that could have earned her a start in the Evian Championship had she won.
Round 1 tee times AEST
LPGA Tour Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open Dundonald Links, Ayrshire, Scotland
5.32pm* Minjee Lee, Georgia Hall, Maja Stark
5.54pm Su Oh, Jessica Karlsson, Becky Morgan
9.20pm Stephanie Kyriacou, Ana Pelaez Trivino, Lilia Vu
10.26pm Hannah Green, Johanna Gustavsson, Emily Kristine Pedersen
10.48pm Lydia Ko (NZ), Jennifer Kupcho, Hinako Shibuno
11.10pm Whitney Hillier, Mina Harigae, Yuka Saso
Defending champion: Ryann O’Toole
TV times: Live Midnight-4am Thursday, Friday on Fox Sports 505; Live 11pm-2.30am Saturday on Fox Sports 503; Live 10.30pm-2.30am Sunday on Fox Sports 505.