Minjee Lee’s season kicked into life at the LPGA Tour Cognizant Founders Cup in New Jersey as she only missed out on a successful defence of her title in a playoff.
Royal Fremantle’s Lee has been in solid rather than spectacular form in 2023 so far but she produced some of her best golf to be amongst the leaders of the tournament throughout the week.
Lee looked odds-on for the title as she held a three-stroke lead going into the final round only to be denied by a superb performance by Korea’s Jun Young Ko, who fired a best-of-the-day five-under-par 67 to Lee’s closing 71 in difficult, windy conditions.
It left the pair tied at -13 and Lee again seemed to be in the driving seat with a superior approach to the first playoff hole. However, when Ko lagged her birdie attempt to tap-in range, Lee went for broke with an aggressive birdie putt that raced six feet past.
She missed the return putt to hand the title – and the AU$675,000 to prize – to her opponent but can take confidence in an excellent week’s work in New Jersey.
Lee’s previous best finish on the LPGA Tour this season was T41st at the Chevron Championship and her prize of AU$425,000 here was five times more than her cumulative winnings from her previous events in 2023.
It has been a terrific few weeks for WA golfers on the LPGA Tour, with Hannah Green winning the JM Eagle LA Championship in late April, and both Lee and Green playing pivotal roles as Australia reached the final of the International Crown Match Play Championship last weekend.
Meanwhile, over on the Ladies’ European Tour, Perth’s Kirsten Rudgeley finished in T13th at the Jabra ladies’ Open in France. Despite starting with a +4 opening round, Rudgeley was in fine form in the event’s closing 36 holes to finish level par for the championship.
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