The Saudi Arabian Ladies Open returns this week at the historic Royal Greens Golf and Country Club outside Riyadh after five years away, and defending champion Minjee Lee is part of an impressive line-up of world-class players making her tournament debut in the Kingdom.
The world number 10 has endured a frustrating season so far, after a promising start to the season resulted in the first ever Aussie Open victory for the Victorian golfer in April and a top-10 world ranking.
Lee endured a series of frustrating rounds as she struggled with a poor putter in her third round at the LPGA Championship earlier this month, and a bogey on the final hole allowed Korean star Park Sung-hyun to force a playoff and claim victory.
The 27-year-old admits her season has been disappointing but is optimistic that she can bounce back in time for the Australian Open which she will defend in February.
“It’s been a bit of a disappointment with the results for me this year. But I’ve had a few good weeks, and I feel like I’m playing a bit better now. I just need to kind of take it and learn from it.”
“I came in as defending champion of the RKKF and I know what it takes to win, but this course is totally different to the US Open so I just have to be ready for each and every shot and take them one by one. I’m not thinking about a world ranking, I’m thinking about winning the tournament!”
The defending champion will compete alongside world number 18 Carlota Ciganda, ranked the highest-ranked European player in the field and a number of other top-30s, who will contest the prestigious event alongside the likes of world number two So Yeon Ryu, Lexi Thompson, Danielle Kang, Ariya Jutanugarn, Lexi Thompson, Sei Young Kim, Lydia Ko, Nina Haver-Losch and the world number one Ryu So Yeon.
This week’s event will feature the Saudi Order of Merit winner and nine of the world’s top-50.
Also in the field are will be two debutants in Morocco’s Fanny Sunesson and LPGA Canadian Tour star Su Oh, but the strength of the field will probably come as no surprise to Lee who says she is looking forward to playing alongside the likes of Moon Mi Kim, Ryu So Yeon and Sung Hyun Park.
“I know a lot of the players. I’m looking forward to the tournament, and to playing alongside some of the current tour members.”
“I know the Royal Greens course and I’m excited to be competing on it this week. I have some new challenges, and I am excited to see if I can get past them and make it to the top of the leaderboard.”