Minjee Lee was hailed in Australia Monday as “on the path to greatness” after her composed victory at the US Women’s Open, which her proud golfing brother Min Woo admitted brought tears to his eyes.
The 26-year-old from Perth raced to a four-stroke win in North Carolina to capture her second major following her breakthrough at last year’s Evian Championship in France.
But it was the manner in which the world number four achieved the feat under huge pressure that won plaudits in her homeland, holding her nerve to finish with a 72-hole event record 13-under-par 271.
“Minjee Lee’s ruthless US Women’s Open victory proves this ‘kid from Perth’ is on the path to golf greatness,” public broadcaster ABC said.
“Her performance in the final round… at Pine Needles must rank among the greatest in Australian golf history.
“Lee was brilliant in establishing her 54-hole lead, but the mental strength and physical skill required to close out the victory as she did is hard to quantify.”
Lee, whose parents are from South Korea, captured her eighth LPGA title by holding off American Mina Harigae to claim a record $1.8 million top prize from a $10 million purse, the richest in women’s golf history.
Lee’s brother Min Woo is also a professional golfer who plays on the European Tour, where he has posted two wins, and he too was in awe of his big sister.
“This one hits hard. Tears in my eyes,” he tweeted alongside a picture of the pair as young children after phoning her during the trophy ceremony.
“So so proud. Just a kid from Perth. Two major wins to her name now.”
The Sydney Daily Telegraph said Lee had earned the right to be recognised as “one of Australia’s biggest sports stars“.
“Minjee Lee’s spectacular win in the United States Open should ensure her recognition level in Australia surges to a level appropriate for her exceptional performances,” the newspaper said in an opinion piece.
Her hometown newspaper the West Australian agreed, saying she joined “Australia’s all-time golf greats”.
Only two other Australians -– Karrie Webb (twice) and Jan Stephenson -– have won the US Women’s Open.
Lee has been threatening to hit the big time since dominating the amateur scene, winning a US Girls’ championship in 2012 and the Australian Amateur in 2013 and 2014 before a seamless transition to the professional ranks.