Minjee Lee's sixth place on the LPGA Tour's season-long points race is significant for the Australian as the season moves to Japan this week and grinds toward a climax.
Lee, the 20-year-old wunderkind who recently won her third LPGA Tour tournament, remains in position to strike and win the $US1 million bonus that will be on offer at the Tour championship in Florida later this month.
Because of the nature of the points reset that will happen, the top nine on the points table will all have a chance of winning the bonus pool. Hence at sixth right now, Lee needs to continue to play well at the Toto Japan Classic beginning at Ibaraki Golf Club outside Tokyo tomorrow, and in the Lorena Ochoa event in Mexico should she choose to play there. They are the last two events on tour prior to the Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club from 17 to 20 November.
Lee has already played 25 tournaments in most corners of the world, but now is the time for grinding. The top 72 on the points standings after the Mexico tournament will progress to the Tour Championship at Tiburon, which means that fellow-Aussies Su Oh, Karrie Webb and Sarah Jane Smith also should be in the field in Florida. All three are playing this week to attempt to seal their position.
The Tour Championship is worth $US 2 million as a stand-alone event but then the bonus pool kicks in. It was Lydia Ko, the Kiwi, who won the bulk of the money last year.
Lee, who came through the development programs of Golf Western Australia and Golf Australia, has risen to No. 16 in the world in just her second year as a professional, winning $US1. 16 million in prizemoney this year.
This year she has won the Lotte Championship in Hawaii and the Blue Bay event in China.
RACE TO CME GLOBE STANDINGS
1 Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand)
2 Lydia Ko (NZ)
3 Brooke Henderson (Canada)
4 Sei Young Kim (Sth Korea)
5 Hana Jang (Sth Korea)
6 Minjee Lee (Australia)
7 In Gee Chun (Sth Korea)
8 Anna Nordqvist (Sweden)
9 Haru Nomura (Japan)
10 Amy Yang (Sth Korea)
50 Su Oh
55 Karrie Webb
60 Sarah Jane Smith