10 Stats to Know: Round 4
On a Sunday at Pine Needles that featured the toughest scoring conditions of the week, Minjee Lee didn’t give an inch. Lee hit nine of her first 10 greens in regulation in the final round, squelching the remaining hopes of a collection of talented chasers. A three-shot advantage entering the day wound up as a four-stroke victory, as Lee claimed the largest first prize in women’s major championship history.
Here are 10 Stats to Know from the final round of the 77th U.S. Women’s Open Presented by ProMedica:
1. Lee finished with a 72-hole total of 271, the best in the history of a championship that dates to 1946. At multiple points during the final round, Lee got to 15 under, becoming just the third player in U.S. Women’s Open history to reach that plateau at any point during the championship. The other two players to reach that point were Juli Inkster in 1999 and Ariya Jutanugarn in 2018 – who both got as low as 16 under.
Lee finished with 23.41 strokes gained total for the week, the most by a U.S. Women’s Open champion since Inbee Park in 2013 gained 24.28. Park is also the last player to win this title by four strokes or more, doing so by five strokes that year at Sebonack Golf Club in New York.
2. Lee is just the third Australian woman to win this championship, and the first since Karrie Webb won at this same venue back in 2001. Lee, Webb and Jan Stephenson are the only Australian women to win multiple major championships in LPGA history, with Webb getting her second just a few months younger (age 25) than Lee did on Sunday (age 26).
If that company isn’t impressive enough, consider this: Lee is just the seventh player in history to win the U.S. Girls’ Junior and the U.S. Women’s Open in her career. The others: Mickey Wright, Amy Alcott, JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Hollis Stacy, Park and Ariya Jutanugarn. Park and Jutanugarn are the only other players from outside the United States to pull off that rare USGA double.
3. Lee featured excellence throughout the bag this week, ranking 14th or better in the field in every strokes-gained discipline (off the tee, approach the green, around the green and putting). Her biggest advantage, though, came on the greens, where she ranked second in the field in strokes gained. That was a marked change from what she had done all season long on tour – Lee entered the week ranked 144th on the LPGA in strokes-gained putting per round in 2022. Lee gained more than 42 percent of her strokes over the field for the week with her putting.
4. This week, the world’s best competed for the largest purse in women’s professional golf history. The significance of this sum cannot be overstated: in the history of the LPGA, fewer than 200 women accumulated more official, on-course earnings than the $1.8 million Lee received for first place on Sunday. The runner-up total, a little over $1 million, would have won the season-long money race as recently as 1996. In 2021, the runner-up prize ($1,080,000) would have ranked 14th for the entire season.
5. Mina Harigae finished alone in second place, picking up that $1M-plus prize that went with it. Harigae’s 72-hole score to par of 9 under would have won outright or forced a playoff in 70 of the previous 75 U.S. Women’s Opens decided via stroke play. Harigae was magnificent on the greens all week, ranking second in the field in putts per green in regulation and seventh in strokes-gained putting. Harigae has been competing in major championships since 2007 – before today, her best finish in any of them was a tie for 13th place.
6. Ingrid Lindblad had a week at Pine Needles she will never forget. After setting the U.S. Women’s Open record for lowest 18- and 36-hole scores by an amateur – grouped with Annika Sorenstam, no less – she set the 54-hole scoring record for an amateur on Saturday. In tougher conditions Sunday, she shot 76 – giving her a 72-hole total of 283, tying the second-lowest ever by an amateur in this championship’s storied history. Lindblad was remarkable on the greens, making 66 of 69 putts inside 10 feet for the week, and a perfect 50-for-50 from 5 feet and in.
7. After three days of scoring records being matched and beaten, Pine Needles bristled back on Sunday. The field played to an average score of 75.13 in the final round, a leap of more than two full strokes over Round 3. In fact, the jump of 2.36 strokes from Saturday to Sunday was the largest at any U.S. Women’s Open over the last 30 years. The front nine alone played more than 1.3 shots tougher in Round 4 than it did in Round 3, a differential of nearly 100 strokes in relation to par.
8. World No. 1 Jin Young Ko finished alone in fourth place, her second career top five at the U.S. Women’s Open. Ko was her usual precise self with her irons, ranking third in the field for the week in strokes-gained approach.
In six starts in this championship, Ko has never finished outside the top 20. In fact, she’s one of the best performers in U.S. Women’s Open history to have not taken home the trophy. Ko has averaged a stellar 2.84 strokes gained total per round in her six career U.S. Women’s Open starts. Among all players with 20 or more rounds played since 1992, that is by far the best average of any player without a victory to her credit.
9. With Australian Minjee Lee’s win, this marks the sixth consecutive year an international player has won this championship, the longest such streak in history. The previous-longest run was four in a row, from 1995 to 1998.
The influx of elite, global talent to this championship has been immense. From 1946 through 1994, nearly 90 percent of U.S. Women’s Open champions came from the United States. But since Annika Sorenstam’s first U.S. Women’s Open title at Broadmoor Golf Club in 1995, 20 of the 28 winners have come from other countries – a rate of more than 71 percent.
10. The 2023 U.S. Women’s Open will head to iconic Pebble Beach, the first time the legendary layout has hosted this championship, and the first time it has hosted a women’s USGA championship since the 1948 U.S. Women’s Amateur. Overall, it will be the 14th time Pebble Beach has hosted a USGA championship, the fifth-highest total of any course – and the most of any venue west of Pennsylvania.
Minjee Lee will try to become the first player to win this championship back-to-back since fellow Aussie Karrie Webb in 2001.
Justin Ray is the head of content for Twenty First Group. He has also worked as a senior researcher at ESPN and Golf Channel.