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“I fought really hard this whole day, and to finish with a couple of birdies and just to come out with a win is just really special. I'm really happy,” said Lee, who finished at -19 overall, two strokes ahead of fellow major champion Lexi Thompson.
Lee got off to a shaky start but credited her calm demeanor and approach as she grinded her way around UMCC. Eight pars, including a short, missed birdie putt that lipped out on No. 4 and a bogey on 8 caused Minjee to make the turn at +1 and -16. The bogey was a gift after an “average” tee shot and a second shot that found the rough above the bunker, and it took Lee two attempts to get back on the green.
“My tee shot was very average. I didn't know it ended up in that little hump area so I just thought it was in the bunker,” said Lee. “But to be fair, it was quite a simple bunker shot. It was just all kind of running towards the hole so if I landed it just on, then it would release to the hole. So I was pretty calm even in that situation as well so I didn't really have to think too hard about it.”
Lee’s birdie on No. 12 got her back in her groove, and after being tied with Thompson, she retook the lead after carding another birdie on 14. A closing birdie on 18 was the chef’s kiss on a win she said was the hardest she’s fought for in her career.
“I feel like situationally it was in the final round and in the final group so I think there was a little bit more pressure that I probably put on myself,” said Lee. “Maybe that's what made it a little bit more hard. But I don't remember the last time I worked this hard for a win, but I don't know. This is probably the first time. New experience.”
Thompson finished the weekend in solo second, after a bogey-free 69 put her at -17 overall. It is her third runner-up performance since the 2021 Pelican Women’s Championship, and her second top-four finish in her last three starts. Madelene Sagstrom and Angel Yin tied for third at -16, with Yin posting a 5-under 67 on Sunday to earn her best result since a tie for third at the 2021 Honda LPGA Thailand.
“I'm proud of myself, honestly. I have stayed pretty steady the whole entire week. Not too much emotions. I didn't really feel much pressure in the last day. Even today going into the last back nine,” said Yin. “A bit disappointed on 16 having a 3-putt, but I think I'm just pretty proud of myself keeping it together. It's not an easy golf course.”
Sagstrom fought back after a triple bogey on No. 3 with three birdies on her final nine to get back to even and record her third-straight top-10 finish. Carlota Ciganda blazed through the New Jersey track with an 8-under 64 to move to solo fifth, while Nasa Hataoka and Megan Khang finished up in a tie for sixth. LPGA Tour rookies Atthaya Thitikul and Hye-Jin Choi tied for eighth at -13, while Jenny Shin rounded out the top 10 (10th) at -12 after a fourth-round 67. Defending champion Jin Young Ko finished T17 at -8 and sponsor invite Anna Davis secured her career-best finish on Tour, a tie for 50th at -3.