Australia’s Minjee Lee will head to her second Olympics brimming with confidence after shedding the tag of “best player without a major” by claiming the Evian Championship in France on Sunday.
The 25-year-old won a play-off against South Korea’s overnight leader Lee Jeong-eun to become only the fourth Australian woman to win a major, following Karrie Webb, Jan Stephenson and Hannah Green, who will join her at Tokyo.
Having suffered a number of near-misses at the majors, Lee was relieved to finally get the monkey off her back.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, and I hear so many people say, ‘We really want to you win a major and a major is just around the corner’,” the Western Australian said at the Evian Resort Golf Club.
“Its easier said than done, and everybody is so good out here. Its just really nice to have a major title under my belt.” Lee started the final day seven shots adrift to equal the best come-from-behind victory in a major.
She munched on a nectarine to stay “chill” while waiting for the playoff. After returning to the 18th, Lee put her approach within three metres, while her Korean opponent found water.
“I kept nibbling on my nectarine, so it must have looked so bad on camera, she said. “I just felt good ... I rolled a couple putts and I was just kind of calm.” It capped a golden two weeks for the Lee family, with Minjee’s younger brother Min Woo winning a three-way play-off to clinch the Scottish Open.
Minjee finished equal seventh at the 2016 Rio Olympics, with South Korean Park Inbee claiming the gold ahead of New Zealand’s silver medallist Lydia Ko and China’s bronze winner Feng Shanshan. The women’s Olympic golf starts on August 4 at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
“The Olympics have been on the back of my mind since Rio, so Im really excited to play and go out there and represent my country,” said Lee.