Records tumbled in Minjee Lee’s wake at the US Women’s Open on Sunday.
The Australian claimed the highest payout in women’s golf history in Southern Pines, North Carolina, cruising to her second major triumph with a record-breaking performance worthy of the $1.8 million prize.
Lee headed into the last day riding the tide of an unprecedented first three rounds, shooting 67, 66, 67 to break Juli Inkster’s 23-year-old record across 54 holes with a 13-under par 200.
The scintillating start meant that even a level-par 71 on the final round didn’t stop the 26-year-old from breaking the 72-hole championship scoring record, pipping Inkster, In Gee Chun and Annika Sorenstam by one stroke with her 13-under 271 finish.
Leading by six shots at the 12th hole and finishing four strokes ahead of American Mina Harigae, her victory had looked to be a procession even before the Australian took to the final tee – but not to Lee.
“I was nervous as hell,” Lee admitted to CNN’s World Sport. “But it was pretty cool.
“Walking down that 18th hole … looking at all the crowd, looking at the finish line – it was just a really special moment.”
‘It’s a great thing for the women’s game’
In lifting the Harton S. Semple trophy, Lee became the first Australian to do so since Karrie Webb in 2001, and was rewarded for her efforts with a champagne shower courtesy of compatriot Hannah Green.
The other reward was the unprecedented $1.8 million prize pot. That sum alone eclipses Lee’s winnings for her most profitable ever season in 2018, where 10 top five finishes over 27 LPGA events saw her claim over $1.5 million, based on figures from the LPGA website.
Second-placed Harigae earned the largest runner-up sum in women’s golf history, taking home $1.08 million of the record $10 million overall prize purse.