Minjee Lee embraces the challenge of Congressional for KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Minjee Lee joins six Australian golfers teeing it up in a women’s major this week.

The historic Congressional Country Club is inspiring Aussie No.1 Minjee Lee to add to her recent major success at this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in Maryland.

On the back of Lee claiming the richest prize purse in women’s golf history at the US Women’s Open at Pine Needles, KPMG and the PGA of America announced on Tuesday that this year’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship would see a doubling of prize money from $US4.5 million to a whopping $US9 million.

Lee’s four-stroke US Open victory was worth $US1.8 million and the No.3-ranked played in the world is one of the favourites to pocket the $US1.35 million that the champion will receive on Sunday along with one of golf’s largest trophies.

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But more than money it is her place in history that is motivating Lee to chase further success in the majors.

Her breakthrough at the Amundi Evian Championship last year released the pressure of expectation – both internally and externally – and in the wake of her US Open win signalled her intent to tick off the career grand slam on her way to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

And while others may find major championship pressure daunting, Lee laps it up.

“I like to embrace the challenge,” said Lee, who is seeking to become the first Australian since Karrie Webb in 2001 to win two majors in the same year.

“The harder the golf courses get, I think the better I play.

“You do have to focus a little bit more on smaller details, so I think that’s where I kind of excel.

“When I play under pressure, that is where I excel as well.”

In addition to the significant increases in prize money, the female game’s showpiece events are being taken to courses steeped in championship history.

Hannah Green’s 2019 KPMG underdog triumph came at the famed Hazeltine National Golf Club while Congressional is one of America’s most celebrated clubs having been founded in 1924.

Greg Norman and Tiger Woods are both two-time winners of PGA TOUR events at Congressional while Ernie Els (1997) and Rory McIlroy (2011) won US Opens at the venue.

The 26-year-old West Australian was yet to experience the golf course when she fronted the media on Tuesday morning, instead taking to Instagram to get a feel for what she would be facing.

“I just scrolled through Instagram pretty much,” Lee said of her course research.

“The words that I kind of thought about was, like, pure. It’s going to be really challenging as well.

“My caddie actually told me some holes even if you hit a good shot, you might not be rewarded. Patience is the key around here.

“KPMG and PGA of America are bringing us to such historic venues that we haven’t really had the opportunity (to play). Now that we do, I think maybe it feels a bit more special to be here.

“Maybe we can create our own history from now.”

Lee will be joined in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship by six fellow Australians including former champion Hannah Green, Su Oh, Stephanie Kyriacou, Sarah Jane Smith, Sarah Kemp and Katherine Kirk.

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