World number 19 and the top ranked female Australia golfer, Minjee Lee, has announced that she will kick off her 2018 season at the ActewAGL Canberra Classic, which will be played at the Royal Canberra Golf Club from 9th – 11th February.
The West Australian has become has become a household name and a force to be reckoned in the world of women’s professional golf in the three short years she has competed on the US LPGA Tour.
Lee clearly had all the credentials to succeed at the highest level following a glittering amateur career. She was the number one ranked amateur golfer in the world when she turned professional in September 2014 after leading the Australia team to win the Espirito Santo Trophy for only the third time in the event’s history.
She went on to finish co-medalist at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in December that year to earn her tour card for 2015.
The then 18-year-old did not have to wait long for her first victory as a professional, taking out the Kingsmill Championship with an impressive two-shot win over former US Open winner So Yeon Ryu.
Then, 2016 proved to be another fantastic year for Lee, when she finished her season with two wins to her credit at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii and the Blue Bay Classic in China, along with a host of other top finishes to end the year 12th on the LPGA Money List.
While she did not make it into the winner’s circle in 2017, she still had an outstanding season, racking up 10 top 10 and 16 top 25 finishes, including a 3rd place finish at the ANA Inspiration 2017, her best finish to date in a major championship.
She finished the year 16th on the LPGA Money List with earnings in excess of US$1 million. In three years on the LPGA Tour the talented 21-year-old has three tournament victories to her credit, and has accumulated more than US$3 million in prize money.
Lee has twice represented Australia at the International Crown in 2014 and 2016, and will be looking to spearhead the Australian Challenge at the event in Korea late in 2018, while she also represented Australia at the Rio Olympic Games alongside her good friend, Victorian Su Oh.
Lee said she was looking forward to competing in Canberra: “I am really excited to start the season at the inaugural ActewAGL Canberra Classic. I am looking forward to seeing the new redesigned course at the Royal Canberra Golf Club and what challenges it will bring.”
Lee also acknowledged the quality of the field she would be up against, and was hoping that the event could act as a spring-board to further success in 2018.
“I’ve heard we will be getting a great field including the reigning LET number one Georgia Hall who has secured her card on the LPGA now, along with the great Laura Davies and my fellow compatriot Katherine Kirk who I enjoy playing with. I hope to be able to use the ActewAGL Canberra Classic as a momentum to kick start a promising New Year. Hope you all come out to see us and join the excitement,” Lee said.
ALPG CEO Karen Lunn said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Minjee will compete in the 2018 ActewAGL Canberra Classic. To have our number one ranked Australian player contesting the event is a massive draw card for the tournament, and will provide Canberrans and others from the surrounding regions the opportunity to see her in action.”
Lunn also was quick to point out the level of competition at this year’s tournament. “Minjee will join her compatriots Katherine Kirk, Sarah Jane Smith, Sarah Kemp, Rebecca Artis, Stacey Peters and Whitney Hillier in the field along with an international lineup of stars who need little introduction.”
“Jiyai Shin, who is the current world number 25, was a crowd favourite when she claimed the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open title at Royal Canberra in 2013, and will join former Australian Open winners, former world number 1 Laura Davies and 2019 European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew in the field.”
“Ladies European Tour Order of Merit winners the past 2 seasons Beth Allen and Georgia Hall are also confirmed, along with Solheim Cup Melissa Reid, Caroline Hedwall and Linda Wessberg and Florentyna Parker.
“We also have nine players in the field who represented their country at the Rio Olympics, with the field made up of 144 players from 29 different countries.”
Michael Costello, CEO of ActewAGL said, “The local community are very excited for this tournament and today’s announcement of Minjee and other top international players joining the tournament highlights this is going to be a world-class event.
“This golf tournament is just one of the many female sporting events and groups ActewAGL supports and we are proud to be a major supporter of women in sport here in the ACT and surrounding region.”
For more information about the tournament visit: http://www.alpg.com.au/aacc.