Date: February 23, 2014

A near perfect champion – Minjee Lee wins Oates Vic Open

On championship Sunday at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links a new star was born. Minjee Lee finished with a score of -16 and -6 on the day and lifts the 2014 Oates Victorian Open Women’s trophy. Like a painter with a favourite brush, Lee used the Thirteenth Beach layout as her canvass and painted the perfect picture as she walked off the eighteenth green to cheers that rivaled that of a Sunday at Augusta. Her name will stand forever as the state champion but in the short term it is her ball striking that is what the crowd in excess of 7000 on Sunday, at Thirteenth, will remember her for.
She started the day in sole possession of the lead at -10 with local girl Sarah Jane Smith and Victorian amateur Su-Hyun Oh right on her heels. None of the aforementioned players could afford to drop a shot. Once the door was opened for one to take advantage of another’s slip up, the chance was taken. No one, however, could match Lee’s play. It was precise, dominant, elegant, perhaps perfect, aside from two bogeys on 1 and 3, yet undoubtedly merciless. All she had to do after the fifteenth hole was par out for the win. 

Lee had the following to say, when asked about when she felt she had the tournament in her pocket.

“Ya maybe after 15, I saw the leaderboard. I didn’t have to do anything crazy.”

“Just finish my round.”

She was ever so graceful in speaking about her first win in a pro tournament. In fact it was tough for her to believe that she had achieved such a feet.

“Not really. I am just kind of like ahh I won.  Nothing has sunk in yet. It was good.”

She certainly learned how to win from playing in the Masters and last week’s Women’s Australian Open.

“I don’t know.  I think just being in that situation.  I was so much more comfortable in today’s round. I guess I have just gotten used to it. “

Lee’s nerves got her early and then she settled in and became calm.

“Bogey birdie then bogey again. I wasn’t really settled in but after the next hole I was really calm. I just hit some good shots and made birdies after that.”

Her future plans are as follows.

“Tomorrow I am going home and I am looking forward to my own bed. I am in China next week and then a couple weeks off.”

Runner up Vikki Laing put the pressure on down the stretch. Laing carded the best round of the day at -8.  She started with a bogey on 1 but then rallied immediately with birdies on 2,3 and 4.  She came home with birdies on 15,16 and 18 and signed her card at -8 for the tournament, a valiant effort from the Scottish player.  Her efforts are to be commended.

Early scores in the day had reigning champion Stacey Keating card a +5 and finish tied for fifteenth at +3, while the tournament’s most recent international winner (2012), Joanna Klatten (France), slipped out of the top twenty and was amongst two players tied at +8.

Having won at the amateur level, this is the first major win in a professional tournament for the 2014 Oates Vic Open Women’s champion Minjee Lee. 

This a big step forward in her young career as she follows up some brilliant performances this ALPG season with a massive win.  Lee’s summer had her entering the Women’s Australian Open with the lead on Sunday, coming second in the Ladies Masters and finishing fifth at the New South Wales Open as the top amateur.  She turned some heads and can now hold her head high with this win. 

“I wasn’t really thinking about much going into this round my head was clear. I kind of played and took it as it came.”

“Nothing changes for me.”

Congratulations Minjee Lee.

By: Michael Speakman (Golf Victoria Contributor)