• Winner joins Kiwi Lydia Ko as first player from Asia to qualify • ‘There is a big growth trend out there in the sport’
Minjee Lee has become the first player from Asia to qualify for the start of the LPGA season. The 19-year-old, from New South Wales, was the low amateur player at the US Women’s Open in New Jersey last year, just eight months after becoming the youngest-ever winner on the LPGA Tour, at 16 years and 314 days.
The Australian – ranked number 28 in the world after three wins this year – was runner-up at the Kia Classic last week in Arizona to the world number one, Lexi Thompson, but will join the New Zealander Lydia Ko as one of the 72 top-seeded players for the Saudi Ladies International in Jeddah.
“It is always special to win the ANA Inspiration [the first major of the season], but winning here was even more special because I have never played in a major before and to have my big moments played in front of the best crowds in the world really means a lot to me,” said Lee, who battled neck and shoulder injuries this season.
“There is a big growth trend out there in the sport and we need to keep developing as golfers to be able to play on some of the biggest stages in the world.”