After a slow start to her 2023 season, two-time major champion Minjee Lee finally found some form in New Jersey, finishing second at the Cognizant Founders Cup and T13 at the Miuzho Americas Open, and has carried that momentum with her to this week’s Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. The Australian fired a 4-under 68 during round one at Blythefield Country Club, recording three bogeys and seven birdies on Thursday, including three in a four-hole stretch from Nos. 12 to 15. It’s the third time this season she’s fired 68 or better in the first round – she shot 68 on day one of the Cognizant Founders and 65 in the first round of the JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro – and Lee was pleased with the effort, despite having some trouble with the flatstick.
“I played pretty solid on the back nine, which was my front nine today. I was trying to ride my momentum into the front nine, but I had a few misses here and there. I think I kind of stopped my momentum in the middle and then I made two birdies later and then I bogeyed the 9th hole. I think I'm striking it really solid, and hopefully get my putter in line and then I'll be okay,” said Lee, who hit 9 of 13 fairways and 17 of 18 greens with 33 putts in round one. " I told myself to keep giving myself opportunities on the green, and obviously hit the fairway, hit it on the green, and then the putts. I just try to take one step at a time, assess the shot in front of me. I think that helps me keep grounded and stay focused.”
This is only Lee’s seventh individual start of the 2023 season – she was a member of the Australia Team at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown – and it’s her fifth appearance at the Meijer LPGA Classic. In her four previous starts, Lee has never missed the cut, recording a best finish of T16 in 2019. She didn’t play in last week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, instead choosing to take a week off ahead of this two-week stretch that includes the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, but Lee was able to sneak a peek at next week’s venue, the Lower Course at Baltusrol Golf Club, and learn what she will need to perfect this week at Blythefield to ready herself for a challenging major test.
“I actually loved it. It's a great championship golf course. I think the venue is going to be great. I know all the girls are probably going to love it. There are a mix of really challenging holes, short holes, some with water, some with blind shots. It's a mix of everything. When I went to see it, I had a lot of fun playing it so I'm looking forward to going back,” Lee said. “Obviously the grass is a little different, although the rough around here is quite thick. You can't really prepare for that golf course when you're playing a tournament at a totally different golf course.
“I think just going kind of through the bag and seeing where you're not as comfortable and trying to get comfortable before going to KPMG is probably my goal.”