29 Feb 2024 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Lee’s major goals on eve of 2024 debut

by Tony Webeck

Minjee Lee HSBC Women's World Championship
Minjee Lee is a two-time runner-up at the HSBC Women's World Championship. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

More majors and an Olympic medal are Minjee Lee’s primary focus as she makes her 2024 debut at this week’s HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore.

A two-time runner up at Sentosa Golf Club, Lee starts the year as the No.5-ranked player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking thanks in no small part to her blistering finish to her 2023 campaign.

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After an uncharacteristically slow start to her year, in her last seven starts to 2023 Lee won the Kroger Queen City Championship and the BMW Ladies Championship, was runner-up at the Hana Financial Group Championship and Women’s Australian Open and had top-10 finishes at the Aramco Team Series – Riyadh and the CME Group Tour Championship.

It was a dramatic form reversal that the 27-year-old hopes to carry into a 2024 campaign ripe with opportunity.

“I didn't really have the quick start to the year last year,” Lee conceded.

“It was really nice to finish off with some confidence and a couple wins there and some good finishes.

“Hopefully I can keep the good momentum going into the start of this year and the rest of the year.”

Now a two-time major winner and with 10 career wins on the LPGA Tour, Lee’s resume is on a trajectory that will be LPGA Hall of Fame worthy by the time she finishes.

With five majors on the line again in 2024 along with a third Olympic campaign in Paris, Lee may never have a greater opportunity to have the year of her life.

“Obviously it's a big year with the Olympics and all the majors,” said Lee, the only Australian golfer to compete at both the Rio and Tokyo Olympics.

“They are always on the top of my priority list, I guess. Always want to be playing well in those and contending.”

As for her outstanding record at Sentosa Golf Club, Lee believes the challenge of the golf course plays to her greatest strength.

“I definitely think ball-striking is a big thing out here,” said Lee, who has been drawn to play with New Zealand’s Lydio Ko and last week’s winner, Patty Tavatanakit.

“You want to hit the fairways, hit the greens and you'll have good chances with birdies.

“That is a big key around the course.”

It shapes as a big week, too, for Minjee’s younger brother, Min Woo Lee.

Lee and Aaron Baddeley are the only two Aussies in the field for the PGA TOUR’s Cognizant Classic at PGA National, Lee now second behind Jason Day as leading Aussies on the Official World Golf Ranking.

The Olympic team will not be named until June but having moved past Cameron Smith (45), Lee – currently 42nd – can advance his cause further with a strong showing in Florida.

Smith will once again lead Ripper GC at this week’s LIV Golf event in Saudi Arabia while three-time PGA Tour of Australasia winner, Tom Power Horan, joins the Aussie contingent at this week’s Argentina Open on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Round 1 tee times AEDT

PGA TOUR Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches PGA National Resort (The Champion Cse), Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 3:45am Greyson Sigg, SH Kim, Ryan Fox (NZ) 4:07am Lanto Griffin, Denny McCarthy, Min Woo Lee 5:02am Aaron Baddeley, Padraig Harrington, Justin Lower

Defending champion: Chris Kirk Past Aussie winners: Stuart Appleby (1997), Adam Scott (2016), Matt Jones (2021) Prize money: $US9 million TV times: 11:30pm-10am Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

LPGA Tour HSBC Women’s World Championship Sentosa Golf Club (Tanjong Cse), Singapore 11:25am* Aditi Ashok, Hannah Green, Andrea Lee 11:44am Esther Henseleit, Sarah Kemp, Lim Kim 12:25pm* Carlota Ciganda, Grace Kim, Miranda Wang 1:13pm* Eun-Hee Ji, Stephanie Kyriacou, Azahara Munoz 1:20pm Lydia Ko (NZ), Minjee Lee, Patty Tavatanakit

Defending champion: Jin Young Ko Past Aussie winners: Karrie Webb (2011) Prize money: $US1.8 million TV times: Live 1:30pm-6:30pm Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday on Fox Sports 505 and Kayo.

DP World Tour SDC Championship St Francis Links, Eastern Cape, South Africa 4:50pm* Jason Scrivener, JC Ritchie, Marco Penge 8:30pm Toto Thimba Jnr, Keegan McLachlan, Haydn Barron 10:20pm Sam Jones (NZ), Richie O’Donovan, Nikhil Rama

Defending champion: Matthew Baldwin Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US1.5 million

LIV Golf LIV Golf Jeddah Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, Saudi Arabia Australasians in the field: Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman, Lucas Herbert, Matt Jones, Danny Lee (NZ)

Defending champion: Brooks Koepka Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US25 million TV times: Live from 6:15pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday on 7 Plus.

Korn Ferry Tour 117 Visa Argentina Open Olivos Golf Club, Buenos Aires, Argentina 9:53pm* Rhein Gibson, Jamie Lovemark, Cristobal Del Solar 10:24pm* Brendon Jelley, Ryan Hall, Tom Power Horan 2am Roberto Díaz, Curtis Luck, Tim Widing 2:10am Brett Drewitt, Quade Cummins, Braden Thornberry

Defending champion: Zack Fischer (2022) Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US1 million

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