03 Nov 2022 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Minjee’s million-dollar lure in Japan

by Australian Golf Media

Minjee Lee. 

By Tony Webeck

A well-timed eagle and birdie is all that stands between Minjee Lee and a $US1 million pay day at this week’s LPGA TOUR TOTO Japan Classic in Japan.

The two-time major champion has struggled since withdrawing in the first round of the CP Women’s Open in Canada due to illness, missing two cuts and having a best finish of tied for 49th in her past four starts.

It is an uncharacteristic trend for the world No.5 but there is an added incentive at Seta Golf Course this week.

Not only is Lee still in contention for LPGA Player of the Year honours but she currently leads the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, the season-long competition won last year by fellow West Australian Hannah Green.

Players take their best two scores from each Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole during both the LPGA and PGA TOUR seasons with the winners having the best average score to par at the end of the regular season.

At -0.912 Lee is just ahead of newly-crowned world No.1 Atthaya Thitikul (-0.891) and with just two events left can wrap up the million-dollar prize with two sub-par results this week.

The 435-metre par-5 13th is serving as the Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole. If Lee can record an eagle and a birdie over the course of the four days, her average score will move to -0.944, all but ensuring she becomes the 2022 champion.

If she records two birdies for the week, her season-long average score to par would move to -0.917, requiring Thitikul to record an eagle and a birdie to tie her score.

Thitikul can move into first place with two eagles, unless of course Lee also plays the hole two strokes under par twice over the four rounds.

With two wins and $US3,749,167 in prize money it has been another extraordinary year for the 26-year-old, a year in which she can return home with a further inflated bank balance should she maintain her advantage in the Aon Risk Reward Challenge.

As Lee eyes off the end to her LPGA Tour season, 19 Aussies are vying for a spot on the DP World Tour in 2023.

Four venues will host Second Stage of the DP World Tour Qualifying School in Spain this week, to be followed a week later by the six-round Final Stage also in Spain where 156 players will fight it out for guaranteed starts next year.

Last week’s tie for sixth in Bermuda has earned Aaron Baddeley another PGA TOUR start, this time at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba in Mexico.

With just three events left in the Fall Series, Baddeley, Harrison Endycott and Jason Day will all be hoping to bank valuable FedEx Cup points to firm up their schedules into the new year.

Ten Aussies are teeing it up at the Asian Tour’s International Series Morocco and Brendan Jones is one of four Australians in action at the Mynavi ABC Championship on the Japan Golf Tour, 20 years after his victory at ABC Golf Club.

Round 1 tee times AEDT

PGA TOUR WWT Championship at Mayakoba El Camaleon Golf Course at Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, Mexico 11.06pm             Aaron Baddeley, Jason Dufner, Ben Martin 12.34am*           Harrison Endycott, Ben Griffin, Enrique Marin Santander 3.35am Danny Lee (NZ), Nate Lashley, Kramer Hickok 4.30am Jason Day, Billy Horschel, Justin Rose

Defending champion: Viktor Hovland Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Aaron Baddeley TV times: Live 6am-9am Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 505.

Japan Golf Tour Mynavi ABC Championship ABC Golf Club, Hyogo 10.05am*           Anthony Quayle, Shunsuke Sonoda, Yudai Furukawa 10.25am*           Brad Kennedy, Mikuya Akutsu, Yuwa Kosaihei 10.30am             Michael Hendry (NZ), Naoto Nakanishi, Kenshiro Ikegami 10.40am             Brendan Jones, Komei Oda, Kim Kyung Tae 12.20pm             Andrew Evans, Ukita Flight (a), Yasuki Yoshida

Defending champion: Yousuke Asachi Past Aussie winners: Brian Jones (1989), Brendan Jones (2002) Top Aussie prediction: Brad Kennedy

LPGA Tour TOTO Japan Classic Seta Golf Course, Shiga, Japan 10.22am*           Stephanie Kyriacou, Kana Nagai, Jenny Shin 11.50am             Minjee Lee, Ayaka Furue, Yuna Nishimura

Defending champion: Ai Suzuki (2019) Past Aussie winners: Karrie Webb (2006) Top Aussie prediction: Stephanie Kyriacou TV times: 1pm-5pm Thursday, Friday; Live 1.30pm-5.30pm Saturday; Live 1pm-5pm Sunday on Fox Sports 505.

Asian Tour International Series Morocco Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, Morocco 6pm*    Travis Smyth, Richard T. Lee, Ryo Hisatsune 6.10pm*             Scott Hend, Phachara Khongwatmai, Gaganjeet Bhullar 6.40pm*             Brett Rumford, Ian Snyman, Jinichiro Kozuma 7pm*    Daniel Fox, Karandeep Kochhar, Settee Prakongvech 7.20pm Sam Brazel, Lionel Weber, Quinn Riley 7.40pm Cory Crawford, Ahmad Akram Skaik, Issa Amr Abd El Halim 10.10pm*           Todd Sinnott, Nicholas Fung, Rattanon Wannasrichan 10.20pm*           Jake Higginbottom, Siddikur Rahman, SSP Chawrasia 10.50pm             Wade Ormsby, Sadom Kaewkanjana, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano 11pm    Kevin Yuan, Ben Jones, S Chikkarangappa

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Travis Smyth TV times: Live 12am-4am Friday, Saturday; Live 10pm-2am Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 505.

DP World Tour Q School Second Stage Isla Canela Links, Huelva, Spain 7pm      Linus Yip, Gabriel Morgan 7pm*    Elvis Smylie, Filip Jinglov 7.20pm Nathan Barbieri, Manuel Morugan, Sam Bairstow

Emporda Golf, Girona, Spain 6.45pm*             Blake Collyer, Trevor Sluman, Christopher Guglielmo 6.56pm Daniel Gale, Luke Brown, Daniel Hebenstreit 7.40pm James Marchesani, Jens Fahrbring, Corbin Mills 7.29pm*             Jarryd Felton, Tom Murray, Pedro Oriol 7.40pm*             Tom Power Horan, Yannick Schuetz, Carson Roberts 7.56pm*             John Lyras, Stuart Manley, Alexandre Petit

Desert Springs Golf Club, Almeria, Spain 6.55pm Deyen Lawson, Felix Palson, David Boote 7.15pm Lachlan Barker, Maxwell Martin, Philip Bootsma 7.35pm*             Hayden Hopewell (a), Christofer Rahm, Mitch Waite 7.45pm*             Braden Becker, Zachary Caldwell, Pedro Figueiredo 7.55pm Jack Thompson, Jimmy Keener, Anton Karlsson

Las Colinas Golf & Country Club, Alicante, Spain 7.07pm Kyle Michel, Robbie Busher, Philip Mattsson 7.40pm*             Jordan Zunic, Alex Wrigley, Christopher Feldborg Nielsen 8.13pm Austin Bautista, Gary Stal, George Bloor 8.13pm*             Jay Mackenzie, David Dixon, Maximilian Rottluff 8.35pm Connor McKinney (a), Dermot McElroy, Harry Ellis

Challenge Tour Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final Club de Golf Alcanada, Port d’Alcúdia, Mallorca, Spain 9.36pm Daniel Hillier (NZ), Oliver Hundeboll, Freddy Schott

Defending champion: Marcus Helligkilde Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Australasian prediction: Daniel Hillier

Champions Tour TimberTech Championship The Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club, Boca Raton, Florida Australasians in the field: Steven Alker (NZ), Stuart Appleby, Mark Hensby, Rod Pampling

Defending champion: Steven Alker Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Rod Pampling TV times: 10.32am-12pm Saturday, Sunday; 9.32am-11am Monday on Fox Sports 505.

*Not starting from first tee

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