Minjee Lee.
Minjee Lee (pic) has won a playoff against Alison Lee to take out the BMW Ladies Championship. Image by AP PHOTO
  • golf

Aussie Minjee Lee completes historic family golf double

Darren Walton October 22, 2023

Minjee Lee has penned another glorious chapter in the tale of golf’s greatest sister-brother double act with a compelling victory at the prestigious BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea.

A week after her baby brother Min Woo romped to a record-breaking, wire-to-wire win at the Macau Open, Lee held off a batch of superstars down the stretch to claim her 10th LPGA Tour title in a tense playoff win over American Alison Lee.

Lee held her nerve under intense pressure to seal a drama-charged victory with a brilliant birdie at the first extra hole after her steely US namesake birdied the last two holes to force the playoff.

Australia’s two-time major champion closed with a final-round four-under 68, but a three-putt par on the penultimate hole at the Seowon Valley Country Club outside Seoul opened the door for American Lee to force the playoff with a 67.

But Australian sport’s highest female money earner, and arguably most unheralded women’s sports star, responded to her rival’s sublime approach on the first playoff hole with an even better one before converting to secure her second title from her past three starts.

The world No.7’s latest triumph, following a breakthrough first win of the season last month at the the Kroger Queen City Championship in Cincinnati, completed an unprecedented golfing family double.

Never before have a brother and sister both won professional tournaments on major tours in the space of a week. Few, possibly only Americans Lexi and Nicholas Thompson, have ever even achieved the feats during their entire careers.

Even more incredibly, Lee’s winning putt dropped barely an hour after Min Woo followed up his third worldwide victory with a brilliant tie for sixth at the PGA Tour’s ZOZO Championship in neighbouring Japan.

Min Woo Lee.
 Min Woo Lee enjoyed a top-10 finish at the PGA Tour event in Tokyo with a final-round 65. Image by AP PHOTO 

Lee’s success was even more poignant given both her parents were born in Korea.

“It’s such a great honour for me, obviously to be able to win in Korea,” the 27-year-old said after being showered with champagne on the 18th green from her fellow West Australian major winner Hannah Green, who tied for 22nd.

“And just to be able to play here, it is very special.”

But more than poignant and historic, Lee’s victory was classy.

After starting the day with a two-stroke buffer over South African Ashleigh Buhai, the reigning Australian Open champion and 2021 British Open winner, Lee found herself trailing by a shot heading to the back nine.

But despite Lee, Buhai and former world No.1s Lydia Ko, the defending champion, and Atthaya Thitikul hunting her down, then American Lee making two birdies at No.s 17 and 18 to force the playoff, Australia’s dual major champion repeatedly had the answers.

Minjee Lee.
 Minjee Lee (pic) shot a final-round 68 before beating American Alison Lee on the first extra hole. Image by AP PHOTO 

After being joined in the lead once more, Lee went within millimetres of not only walking off with the $US330,000 ($A522,648) winner’s cheque but also driving away in a BMW I5 after almost acing the 15th for a spectacular hole in one.

But that highlight-reel shot was merely the best of a series of clutch moments from the Perth ace as Lee secured golf’s so-called “women’s major of Asia” in signature fashion.

The fearless frontrunner has now converted 54-hole leads for a seventh time and joins legends Karrie Webb and Jan Stephenson as only the third Australian to notch 10 or more LPGA Tour wins.

“I played pretty solid down the stretch and obviously making a birdie on the first playoff hole is just the cherry on top,” said the humble star.

The victory will also vault Lee back into the top five as the one-time world No.2 bids to become the first Australian to capture the women’s top ranking.