Minjee Lee overcomes a cold putter to win Cognizant Founders Cup
There were low numbers to be had at Upper Montclair Golf Club in New Jersey during the final round the LPGA Tour’s Cognizant Founders Cup. But Minjee Lee, the eventual winner, didn’t shoot one of them. On a day where seven of the top 10 players shot five under or better, Lee closed out with a two-under 70. Still, it was enough to win by two over Lexi Thompson and secure the 25-year-old's seventh LPGA win.
For Lee, ranked No. 1 on the LPGA in 2022 in strokes gained/tee to green, it came down to putting on Sunday. She was close all day, lipping out and scaring the hole on numerous occasions, but putts just weren’t falling for the Australian.
“I was really concentrating on each shot one at a time, so I got on the putting green and I was like, 'just trying to see it go in,' and a lot of them lipped out,” Lee said. “At the end of the day I still got the job done, so I'm happy.”
Lee made the turn at one over for the round after a bogey on the eighth. At one point early in the back nine, she was part of a three-way tie for the lead. But a birdie at 14 pulled her ahead and put her on the 18th tee with a one-shot lead over her playing partner, Thompson.
Thompson, for her part, is having a season of much-improved putting—a part of the game that has caused problems in the past. She’s ranked fifth on tour in strokes gained/putting. Pairing Thompson’s strong ball-striking with a hot putter is a formidable combination. Though it didn’t pay off with a win in New Jersey, Thompson has now finished runner-up twice in 2022.
“I think as athletes we just want to see our hard work pay off," Thompson said, "and when I'm home, I'm doing two workouts a day. I'm putting in five to six hours out on the golf course, and just to see it pay off means the world to me. I'm going to continue to work my butt off and hopefully see the results.”
Lee’s demeanor didn’t change much throughout the final round. From good shots to lipped out putts, she never gave much away. That is, until the final putt. She finished with a birdie on the 18th to win by two, pumping her fist and beaming at her 19-under 269 performance, and her first win since claiming the Evian Championship last July.
“After I holed that last putt, I was really happy, obviously, and I have been playing really well,” Lee said. “So, I'm just proud of myself just that I played four days of really good golf and I was able to fight through this round and come out with a win.”