MINJEE LEE RELISHES AUSTRALIAN SUPPORT
At No. 7 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Minjee Lee is the top ranked Australian in women’s golf. For that matter, she’s the top Australian in all of golf, with PGA Tour player Jason Day coming in at No. 11 in the men’s Official World Golf Rankings. With that honor certainly comes the pressure of living up to expectations, especially when playing on home turf.
“I’m not sure if you want to call it a burden but obviously there’s some expectation there,” said Lee, who hopes to join Karrie Webb, Jane Crafter and Jan Stephenson as Aussies to win their national championship. “I want to play well because it’s my country’s Open. Probably more expectation on myself more than anything.”
Lee grew up in Perth, nearly 1,700 miles from The Grange Golf Club. Nevertheless, Lee knows that the support here in suburban Adelaide will be strong.
“The crowds are a little bigger here than when I’m playing anywhere else. But I like that,” said Lee, who tees off Thursday at 7:55 a.m. with Amy Yang and Celine Boutier. “I like how everybody comes out and supports you. It’s just a really great feeling.”
JIN YOUNG KO LOOKING FOR HAPPINESS ALONG WITH SUCCESS
The 2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open made for quite the auspicious LPGA Tour debut for Jin Young Ko. The Seoul native led wire to wire en route to a three-stroke victory and became just the second player in LPGA Tour history to win in her debut as a Member, joining Beverly Hanson at the 1951 Eastern Open.
But all her on-the-course success means nothing Ko is she’s not happy. Why? The answer is simple.
“Golf is my life,” said Ko, who went on to win 2018 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors. “Sometimes good playing, sometimes bad playing. It really doesn’t matter about finish. Finish top 10 or finish third or finish 20th or 30th, it doesn’t matter. I really try to be the happiest golfer on the course.
Ko does not quite have history on her side when it comes to a repeat victory Down Under. Only two players have won back-to-back Australian Women’s Open title – Yani Tseng (2010, 2011) and Karrie Webb (2007, 2008). Laura Davies is the only other player to win multiple titles, taking hers in 2004 and 2009.
KARRIE WEBB, VISION 2025 INSPIRING NEXT GENERATION OF AUSSIE GOLFERS
At the 2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, Golf Australia kicked off its “Vision 2025” initiative, which set forward a plan to “generate greater female participation, involvement and inclusion in golf at all levels around the country.” Fast forward a year and the program is quickly picking up momentum at the nearly 1,500 golf clubs across Australia.
“We are seeing and we are role modeling the standards we want to see in the game, and we're really excited about where things are heading,” said Chyloe Kurdas, the national female participation manager for Vision 2025.
Certainly, one of the brightest names in Australian golf is 41-time LPGA Tour winner Karrie Webb, who serves on the steering committee for Vision 2025. Long known for her dedication to the game through opportunities like her Karrie Webb Scholarship, Webb sees her work and that of Vision 2025 as building and inspiring the next generation of golfers, both professional and amateur.
“I think the legacy will be that we won't know who to interview in this room that's Aussie in the field, because we'll have so many great Aussies playing, because we'll have so many young girls playing and so many moms playing and women playing,” said Webb. “I think that will be the legacy. And there's no time like the present for us to be concentrating on that, because there's so many other sports in Australia that are. And if we don't, we'll be lost and the growth won't continue at all. So I think it was definitely urgently needed.”
ZOEE DOLLING NAMED AWARD RECIPIENT FOR LPGA’S AXA XL LPGA VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD
The AXA XL LPGA Volunteer Service Award is a program launched in 2018 to recognize exemplary volunteers at each LPGA tournament. Zoee Dolling, who has managed the volunteers at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open’s for the last two years, is this week’s award recipient. Tournament organizers point to her people skills and her continual interest in improving service levels as two of the reasons she received this week’s award.
For more information on the AXA XL LPGA Volunteer Service Award, visit www.lpga.com/tournaments/axa-xl-lpga-volunteer-service-award.
TOURNAMENT SCORING RECORDS
Scoring records since the competition became an official LPGA Tour event in 2012
- 18 holes: 62, Chella Choi, third round, 2014 (par 72); 63, Lydia Ko, first round, 2012 (par 73)
- 36 holes: 133, Caroline Hedwall, 2014 (par 72); 131, Mariajo Uribe, 2013 (par 73)
- 54 holes: 203, Chella Choi, Minjee Lee, 2014 (par 72); 202, Lydia Ko, 2013 (par 73)
- 72 holes: 272, Haru Nomura, 2016 (par 72); 274, Jiyai Shin, 2013 (par 73)