Due to the shortage of aggressive golf as a result of coronavirus pandemic, Lee was having a “powerful time” adjusting to life with out the flexibility to “repeatedly do nicely” within the sport.
Nonetheless, with the assistance of her instructor and former Girls Skilled Golf Affiliation (LGPA) Tour participant Kim Music-Hee, Lee recouped her confidence on the ANA Inspiration, which was performed at California’s Mission Hills Nation Membership.
And forward of the showdown with two of the world’s 10 greatest golfers, Lee once more sought recommendation from Music-Hee.
“I talked on the cellphone together with her earlier than going into the playoff,” Lee instructed CNN Sport. “Whereas I used to be ready for the final two gamers to complete, I instructed Kim that my pictures wavered within the last spherical.
“She instructed me that I did nicely in the whole lot I can do, so simply present the whole lot I had within the playoff. I believe that helped me to get comfy.”
After profitable the ANA Inspiration because of a six-foot birdie on the primary playoff gap whereas her opponents floundered, the 29-year-old Lee’s emotion wasn’t instantly one in all elation. In truth Lees reveals she “did not really feel something.”
“As an alternative, I believed in regards to the exhausting occasions I have been by means of,” she defined. “I used to be glad, however I recalled recollections of the powerful occasions greater than the happiness of profitable. It was my first time crying after profitable.
‘It is loopy!’ Till a month and a half in the past, I instructed her [Song-Hee] that I do not need to play golf as a result of I used to be too exhausted.
“Even only a month-and-a-half in the past, you used to say this. That is unattainable!’ She could not consider it as nicely. I modified in a month! I modified after struggling for 3 years, not taking part in nicely, so she mentioned: ‘That is actually loopy! You are mad!'”
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Previous to the ANA Inspiration, Lee’s final win on the LPGA Tour had come on the Kia Basic in 2017. Since that win, she had completed within the high 10 simply 5 occasions.
The closest she had beforehand come to profitable a significant had been on the Girls’s British Open in 2016, when Lee completed tied for second after capturing a 10-under par 62 within the opening spherical to tie the occasion’s single-round report.
In keeping with Lee, she did not put together “something otherwise” for her ANA Inspiration win.
“It’s a main competitors, however for me it was extra of a testing alternative to point out what I had practiced with Music-Hee. It’s a main, however I participated as if it is not a significant. I believe I participated to check my pictures.”
Lee’s preparations had been additionally unsettled when her standard caddie, Duncan French, found he would not have the ability to receive a visa to journey to the US from his native New Zealand.
Whereas she used the experience of caddie Matt Gelczis — who joined her by leaping into the long-lasting Poppie’s Pond as is customary after profitable the ANA Inspiration — Lee nonetheless leant on French’s recommendation from afar.
“He contacted me after the second spherical. He instructed me that I used to be doing nicely and gave me plenty of recommendation. I instructed him I might like for him to get right here ASAP. I stored telling him: ‘I want you had been right here; when will you get right here?'”
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Utilizing the atmosphere
Trying again on the ANA Inspiration, Lee thinks her play initially had suffered by her getting forward of herself.
“Till the secod spherical … I tended to focus extra on the rating than what I had practiced. I believe I used to be getting desirous to win.”
However having spoken to Music-Hee again in South Korea, she was capable of chill out extra and play her pure sport which enabled her to have the superb last day.
When she began the ultimate day two pictures behind Korda and Henderson, the South Korean additionally felt as if the strain was off. Whereas others faltered, Lee chipped in a outstanding thrice throughout her last spherical, together with on the ultimate gap to qualify for the three-way playoff.
Her last gap chip did not come with out controversy although.
Whereas normally the 18th inexperienced can be surrounded by onlooking followers, with folks prohibited from attending due to the coronavirus pandemic, a big blue wall took the place of these spectators as an alternative.
Lee’s strategy to the ultimate inexperienced would have usually sailed into the water over the inexperienced, however as an alternative, she purposely performed her shot off the wall in order that it stopped just some toes off the placing floor.
She chipped in from there, qualifying her for the playoff. And Lee says that hitting the ball towards that wall was one thing that she practiced after seeing different gamers do it.
“I believe each participant used that wall. I had heard that you could get a drop when the ball lands close to the wall. All of the gamers that I performed with within the first and second spherical had been hitting the ball in direction of the wall, so I believed I might do it as nicely.”
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Even after Lee had chipped in to cap a final-round 67 and provides her the clubhouse lead, Korda had nonetheless but to complete the ultimate gap. Regardless of having completed so strongly, Lee was satisfied she’d find yourself in second place.
“Going into the 18th gap, I set my thoughts to a minimum of end second or third. I hit an eagle on the 18th gap, however I nonetheless did not anticipate to win, as a result of I believed Korda was going to complete with a birdie certainly.
“I used to be pondering that ending second continues to be end result. As a result of Korda can hit long-range, I anticipated her to simply hit a birdie.”
However Korda needed to accept par on the par-five 18th, forcing the playoff. For Lee, the playoff was the place she thrived.
“Really, I used to be extra comfy within the playoff than the remainder of the ultimate spherical. In truth, I believe I confirmed all of the efficiency I had on the playoff. I did a snug swing that I could not do in the course of the last spherical. I used to be simply extra comfy normally.”
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Now Lee is gearing up for the KPMG Girls’s PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Membership in Pennsylvania, the season’s third main championship. She has twice completed within the high 10 on the event, most not too long ago in 2019.
And having gained the primary main of her profession, Lee has regained her ardour for the sport.
“I believe I gained extra confidence after profitable. Additionally, I am having fun with golf now. I believe it [the win] turned the whole lot reverse. I believe I sort of know learn how to play golf now. Previous to this, I did not understand how and what to do, however now I’ve the sensation I do know what to do.”