This is to win the U.S. Open. That’s the thought that has run through the minds and hearts of young girls and boys who have spent hours grinding over five and ten-footers on the practice putting green dreaming of the opportunity to drain that final putt, on the final hole, on the final day, to win.
And it’s not an aspiration that’s exclusive to Americans.
In Australia, Minjee Lee was one of those young girls with a dream and a swing that elevated her to the top of the amateur game and then to the professional ranks. And it was at the U.S. Women’s Open, in 2013 at Sebonack Golf Club, where she got her first taste of major championship golf when she spent the week shadowing fellow Aussie Karrie Webb, her mentor and role model. Nine years later, Lee captured the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, fittingly on the same course where Webb captured her second U.S. Women’s Open title in 2001.
“This is the one I've always wanted to win since I was a little kid,” Lee said about winning the U.S. Women’s Open on Sunday. “It just feels pretty amazing to be able to get it done today. I just can't believe it.”
Through the first two majors of the LPGA Tour season, big dreams have been realized with Jennifer Kupcho earning her maiden major title at the final playing of the Chevron Championship at Mission Hills Country Club, and Lee winning her most cherished of majors at Pine Needles. Now, the Tour shifts focus as it prepares for the run up to the season’s third major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Next, the Tour heads to the ShopRite LPGA Classic for a 54-hole event that is one of the longest-running on the LPGA Tour before returning to Michigan for the Meijer LPGA Classic in a final tune-up ahead of the trip to Congressional Country Club for the third major of the year.
How Lee navigated Pine Needles was the stuff of dreams. It wasn’t flashy or showy, but it was just the style of play that gets rewarded in a U.S. Women’s Open. She had the distance, the accuracy, and the attitude to quietly go about her business as she let her clubs do the talking and in doing so, Lee made history. With her win she set a new 72-hole scoring record and earned $1.8 million for the largest single payday in women’s golf. She also became just the third player from Australia to win the U.S. Women’s Open, joining Jan Stephenson and Webb.
“This will be huge for all the little girls and even the boys and the children watching,” Lee said about the juniors back home in Australia. “The girls have been a lot more interested in playing, so hopefully they watch me on TV, and I can be a good role model to them, and they'll start getting more involved.”
Lee’s victory at Pine Needles will no doubt serve as an inspiration to the next generation of young golfers who have been dreaming, of one day, having that final putt, on the final green, on the final day, to win the U.S. Open. And as Lee showed on Sunday, dreams really do come true.