WASHINGTON (AFP) – Australia’s Minjee Lee won the 77th US Women’s Open on Sunday, rolling to a four-stroke victory to capture her second career major golf title in record-smashing fashion.
The 26-year-old from Perth fired a level par 71 in the final round at Pine Needles in Southern Pines, North Carolina, to finish on a 72-hole event record 13-under 271.
“I’m speechless. I can’t believe it right now,” Lee said. “It’s super special. It has been my dream since I was a little girl.”
World number four Lee, who took her first major title at last year’s Evian Championship, followed in the footsteps of Aussie mentor Karrie Webb, who won a US Women’s Open title at Pine Needles in 2001.
“This was the one I’ve always wanted to win so it feels extra special and I feel amazing right now,” Lee said.
The old US Women’s Open low 72-hole mark was 272 set by Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam at Pine Needles in 1996 and matched by American Juli Inkster in 1999 and South Korean Chun In-gee in 2015.
Lee captured her eighth LPGA title by holding off American Mina Harigae, second on 275 after a closing 72, and claimed a record USD1.8 million top prize from a USD10-million purse, the richest in women’s golf history.
“We’re only moving in the right direction,” Lee said of the prize money. “It’s only going to get better from here. It’s such a large sum. I’m honoured to be the first winner of the sum but it’s only going to get better and better.”
South Korean Choi Hye-jin was third on 277, one stroke ahead of world number one Ko Jin-young of South Korea with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko fifth on 279.