Australian Minjee Lee wins US Women’s Open

Minjee Lee has joined Australia’s all-time golf greats as a multiple major champion with a runaway victory at the mega-rich US Women’s Open in North Carolina.

Lee converted a three-stroke third-round lead into a four-shot triumph at Pine Needles Country Club to pocket a cheque for a record $US1.8 million ($A2.5m).

The 26-year-old finished at 13 under par for the tournament after closing with a 71 on Sunday (US time).

Lee is the third Australian to win the US Women’s Open, the biggest event in female golf, after Karrie Webb (2000 and 2001) and Jan Stephenson (1983).

“I’m speechless. I can’t believe it right now,” Lee said.

“It’s just super, super special and a great honour and it’s been my dream since I was a little goal, the one I always wanted to win.

“Now I’ve done it and it just feels amazing.”

The Perth star’s dominant victory follows her breakthrough maiden major at the Evian Championship last July and is set to catapult Lee from fourth to No.2 in the world.

The 2022 US Women’s Open carried a total purse of $US10 million ($14 million) – the biggest prize pool in women’s golf history.

“It’s such a large sum and I’m really honoured to be the first winner of the sum but we’re only going to get better and better,” Lee said.

“We’re only moving in the right direction.”

The win also elevated Lee into esteemed company as the sixth Australian golfer to have captured multiple majors.

Webb, with seven major championships, Stephenson (3) and men’s greats Peter Thomson (5), Greg Norman (2) and David Graham (2) are the only other Australians to have won more than one.

After starting the final round three shots ahead, Lee all but slammed the door shut on the chasing pack with consecutive birdies on the first two holes to charge five clear.

The world No.4 then made bogeys on the fifth and seventh holes but still reached the turn where she’d started at 13 under par. Meanwhile, her American playing partner Mina Harigae had dropped one shot to slip four behind.

Lee turned the back nine into a procession as her challengers fell away, with Harigae (72) finishing runner-up.

Already the LPGA Tour’s 2022 scoring average leader and victorious in her last two stroke play starts, Lee will next target the Women’s PGA Championship from June 23-26.

She could potentially replace Korean Jin Young Ko as world No.1 if she wins at Congressional Country Club in Maryland.


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