Minjee Lee – completes a breakthrough year – photo Getty Images Doug DeFelice

Minjee Lee has staged a late rally at the final event of the 2021 LPGA season, two birdies and an eagle in the last four holes of her final round at the CME Tour Championship in Naples in Florida, allowing her to regain some of the lost ground of her third round 71 to eventually finish 5th.

Admittedly, Lee finished six shots behind the winner and current world number two, Jin Young Ko, but it was a great way to head for a break following a season which has seen her breakthrough for a first major title and improve from 15th in the Rolex rankings mid-year to her current 7th with the possibility of an even higher place following the revision of rankings later today.

“Yeah, really good,” said Lee. “I feel like the last couple of years I couldn’t really take advantage of the last tournament, but this year I played really well. So, I’m happy that I finished on the on a good note.

“I think golf-wise I have been able to play a little more freely and just have a little bit of — bit more confidence I think, just from Evian and also the British. So, I think that’s why I could finish the year off strong.”

Lee won US$145,000 for her share of 5th place and takes her season’s earnings to US$1.54 million.

For the winner, Ko, it was her 5th win of the season and earned her the LPGA Tour’s Player of the Year title. In fact, it was Ko’s fifth title in her last nine starts on the LPGA Tour and 12th title since joining the Tour in 2018.

Ko’s final round of 63 was just enough to hold off a similarly powerful finish by Japan’s Nasa Hataoka whose final round of 64 just failed to force a playoff.

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko finished 9th after a strong finishing round of 64 which included a final nine of 30, West Australian, Hannah Green was 15th and Victorian, Su Oh 29th.

Lydia Ko finished the season with earnings of US$1,529,000 but importantly she has improved to 5th in the Rolex Rankings after being as far back as 40th just over a year ago, highlighting her return to the sort of golf she was playing earlier in her career.

The LPGA Tour’s next event will be the opening event of 2022, the Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in late January at Lake Nona in Florida.