LPGANovember 20, 2019

The hardest thing about the U.S. Women's Open champ's rookie LPGA season isn't what you'd expect

jeongeun lee6 TOTO Japan Classic - Round One
Matt RobertsOTSU, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 08: Jeongeun Lee6 of South Korea lines up a putt on the 4th green during the first round of the TOTO Japan Classic at Seta Golf Course North Course on November 8, 2019 in Otsu, Shiga, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

NAPLES, Fla. — Jeongeun Lee6 made the transition from the Korean LPGA Tour to the LPGA Tour in 2019, and her rookie year has been an undeniable success. She won the U.S. Women's Open in May and had nine other top-10 finishes, clinching the tour's top rookie honor with four tournaments left to play. But that doesn't mean this first year came without a learning curve. The day before the first round of the CME Group Tour Championship, Lee6 opened up about the toughest part of acclimating to LPGA life.

Through a translator, Lee6 noted that on the KLPGA, you can take a cart during the pro-ams. "But in LPGA," she said, "you have to walk no matter what, even during the pro-am, and so that was like the most hardest thing I ever experienced."

Really? Harder than the grind of traveling across country? Harder than playing against elite competition every week? Harder than winning the U.S. Women's Open?

OK, so Lee6 acknowledged that traveling all over the world and dealing with time changes instead of just playing in Korea has been tough. But apparently it can't compare to having to walk those pro-ams.

Han Myung-Gu

Lee6 also said a big lesson she learned in terms of golf from her first year was the need to be clear on how she's play each course on a weekly basis.

"Coming to America, all the golf courses are very different and the environment is great," Lee6 said. "I feel like I learned a lot of course management in the U.S."

She's learned quickly. Her top-10s in 2019 spread across the globe: Australia, Texas, Scotland, New Jersey and, of course in South Carolina, where she claimed the U.S. Women's Open title at the Country Club of Charleston. Lee6 thinks understanding course management will also be valuable this week at the CME Group Tour Championship, where the winner will earn a $1.5 million payday, the largest winner's check in women's golf history.

"Actually this golf course [Tiburon Golf Club] just reminds me of U.S. Open golf course, especially fairway and everything," Lee6 said. "Green-wise it felt … the grass seems very similar, and I do feel a little bit confident. [It] just kind of reminds me of the U.S. Women's Open tournament."

To the rest of the field, don't say you haven't been warned.