Australia’s Minjee Lee Cruises To U.S. Women’s Open Win, Largest Payday In History

Australia’s Minjee Lee cruised to a four-shot win in the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club on Sunday to capture her second major title and cash the largest winner’s check in women’s golf history. 

Lee, 26, used a third-round 67 to vault to the top of the leaderboard on Saturday. Her closest pursuers, the American Mina Harigae and Hye-Jin Choi of South Korea, were unable to seriously threaten her lead as a windy afternoon in North Carolina produced the week’s most difficult scoring conditions.

An even-par 71 on Sunday allowed Lee to cross the finish line with minimal drama. At 13-under-par 271, she fell two strokes shy of matching the score-to-par record set by Juli Inkster in 1999 and equaled by Ariya Jutanugarn in 2018.

“It’s been my dream since I was a little girl,” Lee said. “It’s the one that I always wanted to win on; now I’ve done it, and it just feels amazing.”

Harigae (9-under) and Choi (7-under) finished solo second and solo third, respectively. Nelly Korda, who was making her first start in over 100 days after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot in her left arm, finished in a tie for eighth at 2-under-par 282.

“In all, I’m pretty happy with how this week went,” Korda said. “Had no expectations. I actually had my best finish in the Women’s Open, so maybe I should just keep that going.”

The win nets Lee a $1.8 share of the record-shattering $10 million purse. This is the first year in the USGA’s lucrative new partnership with ProMedica, with a succession of stellar venues and further increases in prize money scheduled to follow. Harigae became the first-ever second-place finisher to earn a seven-figure payday ($1.08 million).

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

A winner at the 2021 Evian Championship, Lee has amassed eight victories and two majors over a relatively short period. Along with her 23-year-old brother Min Woo, she was already part of the only brother-sister duo to win USGA titles. Min Woo won the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur while Minjee was victorious at the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior.