Five years after winning the Lotte Championship, Australia’s Minjee Lee is hoping to recapture some of that magic again at Kapolei Golf Club this week.
Lee was just a 19-year-old when she took home the Lotte title at Ko Olina Golf Club in 2016 and the $270,000 cash prize that came with it. At the time, it was her second professional win.
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“I actually just remember doing the hula dance at the end,” Lee recalled in a Zoom conference with the media on Monday. “But I remember having a really good last round to win by one (stroke) so I think that was just like an exciting moment for me, my second win on the LPGA so that was pretty special.”
Lee currently has five LPGA wins to her name, but just one in Hawaii. She’s competed in the Lotte Championship in every LPGA season since her win in 2016, but hasn’t been able to reclaim another. After the 2020 Lotte Championship was not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lee is embracing her return to the islands.
“Super excited. I mean, we missed last year and I always love coming back to Hawaii,” she said. “All the vibes and it’s just so chill here and beautiful so I love coming back.”
Lee took the first three-and-a-half months of 2021 to rest and recuperate back home in her native Australia. So far this year, she placed fifth at the Kia Classic on March 25 and 25th at the ANA Inspiration on April 1. As she gets back into the swing of things, she’ll aim to dethrone Canada’s Brooke Henderson, who’s win the two most recent Lotte Championships dating back to 2018.
“I think I sort of just think about all my wins and just the special moments in each one and just how I played. I just reflect back on that,” Lee says as she aims for LPGA win No. 6. “Every win has been special for me and just being back here is really nice.”