Rookie sensation Minjee Lee has the chance to fast-track a changing of the guard in Australian women’s golf this week.
For two decades Karrie Webb has led Australian hopes going into major championships.
But that may be changing with teenager Lee being the form player in the five-woman contingent who will tee up in the $US3.5 million Women’s PGA Championship at Westchester Country Club in New York.
The 19-year-old from Perth goes in confident after storming to fourth place in Ontario, Canada on Sunday in the wake of her impressive maiden LPGA tour victory at the Kingsmill Championship last month.
Despite only turning pro last year, she’s already ranked only one spot behind seven-time major champion Webb at No.17 in the world.
She is also comfortably clear of the 40-year-old Queenslander on the LPGA season money list, in 14th spot with $US377,500 to Webb’s 35th ($US178,150).
Lee said a “battlefield” mentality had contributed to her recent form.
“It has been a mixture of things, consistent play and improved putting, but mostly mentally getting my head around that even if one week is not your week, it doesn’t mean the next week won’t be,” said Lee.
“It’s a battlefield out here and you just want to take one event at a time because it’s a marathon not a sprint.”
Even though Lee has already secured her LPGA Tour card for 2016, her goals in her rookie year haven’t changed.
“Definitely some pressure is off my shoulders,” she said. “But my schedule and goals haven’t changed.
“I still want to have a great experience this year and learn as much as possible about tour life and what’s the best way to manage my game throughout the year.”
As for this week.
“It’s a major week, so the course will be set up to be challenging for all of us,” she said.
“I just want to take one shot at a time and really focus on the things I can control. Come Sunday I want to be in contention and most of all want to have a fun week.”
South Korean Inbee Park will be attempting to become the first player to win the same major three consecutive times since Annika Sorenstam accomplished the feat from 2003-2005, also in this event.
World No.1 Lydia Ko is aiming for a maiden major title in 13th major, conceding recently that nerves had become a problem at majors, rather than fatigue as had been widely theorised.
“The majors, they give me butterflies a lot,” she told journalists.
“I really shouldn’t think of it as a different tournament or different scale, but somehow I just go there and I don’t feel like my game is up to the standard.”