Date: February 22, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Lee soars again to be top Aussie


Another week, another huge step for rookie pro Minjee Lee.

Lee, 18, a Golf Australia rookie squad member, finished tied seventh and leading Australian at today’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open after a closing 72 to finish one under overall, two shots clear of nearest countrywomen Katherine Kirk and Karrie Webb.

“I’m happy, but I obviously wanted to play better than what I finished. I felt like I hit it pretty good (but) the course is so hard,” said the West Australian who finished tied for 11th as low amateur last year at Victoria Golf Club.

“Throughout the week, my expectations got smaller and smaller because the course is pretty tough. I don’t think I’ve played on a tougher course before, so it was crucial to hit it in the right spots.”

Just three weeks into her first LPGA Tour season, Lee has already amassed $64,528 with finishes of 12th, 27th and now a tie for seventh to have her rethinking her goals.

“I’m just starting so I feel like I’m in a really good place and I just want to build from here,” she said after pocketing $27,728 today.

“Obviously, long-term I want to get to world No.1, that’s everyone’s goal. Short-term, maybe in the top 30 of the world rankings (and) … to keep my card.

“But I really just want to have a good learning experience this year and get everything sorted and settled on tour. I want to learn as much as I can this year.”

Kirk, who had visions of glory this morning in the third last group and just three from the lead, barely landed a blow in fading to a tie for 16th.

But three dropped shots in the first seven holes wobbled her before a double-bogey on the 12th effectively ended her chances.

It wasn’t until the 15th that the Queenslander found a birdie and her 78 left her tied for 16th alongside Webb.

Defending champion Webb showed glimpses of form with her second consecutive 71, but said afterwards she’d be better for the hitout during the ensuing tournaments after finishing at one over.

Sarah Kemp, who practised for hours on her putting stroke this week, was rewarded with a  one-under 72 today to finish seven over.

Comeback queen Rachel Hetherington couldn’t replicate Saturday’s charge and finished with a 78 to be eight over in her third tournament in as many weeks.

Nikki Garrett shot a 76 today for a nine over total, while fellow New South Wales player Rebecca Artis closed with a 78 to finish 15 over par.