Top contender for LPGA’s top rookie award motivated by previous winner

September 4, 2019

- In the midst of a terrific rookie season on the LPGA Tour, South Korean star Lee Jeong-eun is among the leaders in many statistical categories.

Lee is not quite at the top, though, because of a dominant season by fellow Korean player Ko Jin-young. And Ko happens to be one of the main sources of motivation for Lee.

“I played with Jin-young at the Evian Championship (in France in July), and she was unbelievable,” Lee told reporters during the U.S. Women’s Open trophy tour in Seoul. “Whether it’s her iron shots or putting, she was so great. The way she’s been playing, it’d be strange for her not to be doing so well.”

Ko, 24, went on to win the Evian Championship for her second major of the season. Ko has an LPGA-best four victories this year and has been at No. 1 in the world rankings since the end of July.

But Lee, 23, hasn’t been too shabby, either. She won the U.S. Women’s Open in June for her first LPGA win and is the runaway leader in the Rookie of the Year points standings. Lee is in second place behind Ko in money and Player of the Year points, and she’s No. 4 in the world rankings.

Ko won the Rookie of the Year award last year and Lee is poised to followed suit.

“I am so proud of Jin-young,” Lee said. “It’s great to see someone like her set examples for younger golfers.”

Lee was visiting her homeland for the first time since her breakthrough at the U.S. Women’s Open three months ago. She said she’d hit a wall physically over the past four months and admitted she even became a bit homesick.

She’ll spend the next three weeks at home before rejoining the tour. Lee said she plans to leave her clubs alone for a bit and stay off her feet for a few days.

“Now that I’ve won the U.S. Women’s Open, I’d love to add another title this year,” she said. “And I think it’d be nice to do that during the Asian swing (which starts in October). I’ll try to get my strength back and finish the year with a win.”