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Australian LPGA star Minjee Lee eyes No. 1 ranking after winning in S. Korea

By Yonhap

Published : Oct. 22, 2023 - 20:59

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Minjee Lee of Australia is doused in champagne after winning the BMW Ladies Championship on the LPGA Tour at Seowon Hills at Seowon Valley Country Club in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on Oct. 22, 2023. (Yonhap) Minjee Lee of Australia is doused in champagne after winning the BMW Ladies Championship on the LPGA Tour at Seowon Hills at Seowon Valley Country Club in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on Oct. 22, 2023. (Yonhap)

After reaching a mini career milestone in her LPGA Tour career Sunday in South Korea, Australian star Minjee Lee set her sights on an even bigger target.

"I still haven't been able to reach world No. 1 yet. That's the goal for me. That's where I really want to reach," Lee said after beating Alison Lee of the United States in a playoff to win the BMW Ladies Championship in Paju, northwest of Seoul. It was Minjee's first win in South Korea, the country of her parents' birth.

Minjee Lee, 27, is currently world No. 7. She climbed to her career-high No. 2 last year.

"I think I've got to put in a little bit more work to get there," she said with a smile. "In golf, you never know what's going to happen. I am going to try and build in the years that I can, so hopefully I can do it in the next year."

Lee has now won twice in her last three starts. She said winning in South Korea is "extra special" because she was able to hoist the trophy in front of her extended family and friends.

Minjee Lee of Australia celebrates after winning the BMW Ladies Championship on the LPGA Tour at Seowon Hills at Seowon Valley Country Club in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on Oct. 22, 2023. (Yonhap) Minjee Lee of Australia celebrates after winning the BMW Ladies Championship on the LPGA Tour at Seowon Hills at Seowon Valley Country Club in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on Oct. 22, 2023. (Yonhap)

Lee became the third Australian golfer to reach double digits in LPGA Tour victories, joining Karrie Webb (41) and Jan Stephenson (16). But Lee said reaching the nice even number is "not particularly a milestone."

"Obviously, I don't really think about how many I've had until I am told," she said. "I go into every tournament trying to contend on the weekend. In terms of that, when I reflect, it shows me that I've put in so much hard work. It's a rewarding feeling."

She had an opportunity to win on Korean soil last month when she played at a Korea LPGA Tour event on a sponsor's invite. She lost in a playoff then, and Lee said she uses experiences such as that as fuel.

"As a golfer, we have a lot more losses than wins. I feel like, over the course of my career, I have had a lot of experiences that have helped me overcome these situations," she said. "Obviously, I'm a little more acclimated now than I used to be to these situations."

Having a short memory also helps, too.

"My personality is ... I am quite calm and I'd say happy-go-lucky," she said. "I am able to forget it quickly and move on and focus on the next shot at hand. When I have a loss like that, I try to take it as more motivation and I work extra hard to not be in the same situation again."

This has been a celebratory month for the Lee family, with Minjee's younger brother, Minwoo, winning on the Asian Tour last week.

"Obviously, it was really great to see Minwoo win. And I follow him every single event," the sister said. "I will never say it to his face but I know he's doing really well and I'm always really proud of him." (Yonhap)