‘Healthy competition’: Minjee Lee credits LPGA win to ‘competitive golf’

The Australian golfer Minjee Lee believes her major-winning exploits this year are a product of “healthy competition” in her sport.

Lee, a 14-year-old Australian teenager, won her first LPGA title at the Kia Classic in August. The moment of the year in her golfing career came when the 16-year-old US Open winner, Lexi Thompson, collided with Lee’s ball as the two played in the lead-up to the event. Thompson’s ball ricocheted off the 9th green and Lee, as she played behind Thompson, found herself $225,000 richer after the tournament ended under the four-major threshold.

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It capped off a sensational year for Lee. She earned her first victory on the LPGA Tour in New Mexico and represented Australia in the opening two rounds of the Evian Championship, where she was third. The success was even more outstanding when taken in context: Lee is a teenager, an Aussie aged 14 years and nine months and a beginner at this level who won her first professional event in her home state. Lee believes her LPGA victory in August is a consequence of her fitness.

“I think it was more about playing more competitive golf than hard golf,” Lee said. “I think I’ve been out there a lot and I think that’s what I needed to play and that’s what I got that result from. I think it’s just healthy competition to be out there, to compete and push yourself.”

She added that her experiences as a fan watching the pros became part of her own game when she was a youth. “I think the experience of coming to see professional golf, watching people who love the game, it’s something that, as a young person, that can really help you see the game better,” she said.

Lee, who is not eligible for the 2016 LPGA season, was more concerned with earning another win than the tour’s mark for young players. “Hopefully I can get back out there again in 2016 and get another win,” she said.

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