Minjee Lee – File photo LET

Minjee Lee might have finished seven shots from the winner, Inbee Park, at this week’s Kia Classic in Carlsbad in California but she will be delighted to have begun her 2021 season as well as she has, finishing in a share of 5th place.

While her final round of even par 72 was disappointing in some respects it was perhaps expected given her lack of tournament play in the last few months and she heads into next week’s ANZ Inspiration with her game in good shape ahead of the first major of the year.

Lee recovered from a slow start to her final round and two late birdies in her round allowed her to move into 5th place and secure a cheque for nearly US$70,000.

The winner, Park, secured her 21st title on the LPGA Tour, seven of those major titles, and she now holds the second highest number of LPGA titles behind only Se Ri Pak who set the tone for those of her fellow countrywoman to follow when she was such a dominant force in the late 1990’s and 2000’s.

Park won by five over Amy Olson despite a bogey at her final hole and given, like, Lee, it was her first LPGA Tour event of the season, it was an ominous sign for her rivals at next week’s ANA, an event she has won and finished runner-up in previous attempts.

Park might not have played this week but for the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo where she will defend her 2016 Gold Medal.

At this stage she would not qualify for South Korea as both Jin Young Ko and Sei Young Kim are ahead of her in the world ranking. This week’s win will assist in that cause.