Mirim Lee admits she ‘had no motivation to play golf’ before winning her debut major

Because of the dearth of aggressive golf due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lee was having a “tough time” adjusting to life with out the power to “continuously do well” within the sport.

However, with the assistance of her instructor and former Ladies Professional Golf Association (LGPA) Tour participant Kim Song-Hee, Lee recouped her confidence on the ANA Inspiration, which was performed at California’s Mission Hills Country Club.

And forward of the showdown with two of the world’s 10 greatest golfers, Lee once more sought recommendation from Song-Hee.

“I talked on the phone with her before going into the playoff,” Lee informed CNN Sport. “While I was waiting for the last two players to finish, I told Kim that my shots wavered in the final round.

“She informed me that I did properly in every little thing I can do, so simply present every little thing I had within the playoff. I feel that helped me to get snug.”

Hard times

After winning the ANA Inspiration thanks to a six-foot birdie on the first playoff hole while her competitors floundered, the 29-year-old Lee’s emotion wasn’t immediately one of elation. In fact Lees reveals she “did not really feel something.”

“Instead, I assumed concerning the arduous instances I’ve been by way of,” she explained. “I used to be blissful, however I recalled reminiscences of the robust instances greater than the happiness of winning. It was my first time crying after winning.

‘It’s loopy!’ Until a month and a half in the past, I informed her [Song-Hee] that I do not need to play golf as a result of I used to be too exhausted.

“Even just a month-and-a-half ago, you used to say this. This is impossible!’ She couldn’t believe it as well. I changed in a month! I changed after struggling for three years, not playing well, so she said: ‘This is really crazy! You’re mad!'”

Lee poses with the trophy after winning the ANA Inspiration.

Prior to the ANA Inspiration, Lee’s final win on the LPGA Tour had come on the Kia Classic in 2017. Since that win, she had completed within the prime 10 simply 5 instances.

The closest she had beforehand come to winning a major had been on the Women’s British Open in 2016, when Lee completed tied for second after taking pictures a 10-under par 62 within the opening spherical to tie the occasion’s single-round record.

According to Lee, she did not put together “anything differently” for her ANA Inspiration win.

“It is a major competition, but for me it was more of a testing opportunity to show what I had practiced with Song-Hee. It is a major, but I participated as if it’s not a major. I think I participated to test my shots.”

Lee’s preparations have been additionally unsettled when her ordinary caddie, Duncan French, found he would not have the opportunity to acquire a visa to journey to the US from his native New Zealand.

While she used the experience of caddie Matt Gelczis — who joined her by leaping into the enduring Poppie’s Pond as is customary after winning the ANA Inspiration — Lee nonetheless leant on French’s recommendation from afar.

“He contacted me after the second round. He told me that I was doing well and gave me a lot of advice. I told him I’d like for him to get here ASAP. I kept telling him: ‘I wish you were here; when will you get here?'”

Lee hits an approach shot during day four of the 2014 Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing, China.

Using the surroundings

Looking again on the ANA Inspiration, Lee thinks her play initially had suffered by her getting forward of herself.

“Until the secod round … I tended to focus more on the score than what I had practiced. I think I was getting eager to win.”

But having spoken to Song-Hee again in South Korea, she was ready to chill out extra and play her pure recreation which enabled her to have the wonderful remaining day.

When she began the ultimate day two photographs behind Korda and Henderson, the South Korean additionally felt as if the strain was off. While others faltered, Lee chipped in a outstanding thrice throughout her remaining spherical, together with on the ultimate gap to qualify for the three-way playoff.

Her remaining gap chip did not come with out controversy although.

While normally the 18th inexperienced could be surrounded by onlooking followers, with folks prohibited from attending due to the coronavirus pandemic, a big blue wall took the place of these spectators as a substitute.

Lee’s method to the ultimate inexperienced would have usually sailed into the water over the inexperienced, however as a substitute, she purposely performed her shot off the wall in order that it stopped just some toes off the placing floor.

She chipped in from there, qualifying her for the playoff. And Lee says that hitting the ball towards that wall was one thing that she practiced after seeing different gamers do it.

“I think every player used that wall. I had heard that you can get a drop when the ball lands near the wall. All the players that I played with in the first and second round were hitting the ball towards the wall, so I thought I could do it as well.”

Lee plays her third shot on the par 4, first hole during the first round of the 2017 ANA Inspiration.

Going ahead

Even after Lee had chipped in to cap a final-round 67 and provides her the clubhouse lead, Korda had nonetheless but to end the ultimate gap. Despite having completed so strongly, Lee was satisfied she’d find yourself in second place.

“Going into the 18th hole, I set my mind to at least finish second or third. I hit an eagle at the 18th hole, but I still didn’t expect to win, because I thought Korda was going to finish with a birdie without a doubt.

“I used to be pondering that ending second remains to be end result. Because Korda can hit long-range, I anticipated her to simply hit a birdie.”

But Korda had to settle for par on the par-five 18th, forcing the playoff. For Lee, the playoff was where she thrived.

“Actually, I used to be extra snug within the playoff than the remainder of the ultimate spherical. In reality, I feel I confirmed all of the efficiency I had on the playoff. I did a cushty swing that I could not do throughout the remaining spherical. I used to be simply extra snug normally.”

Lee and caddie Gelczis celebrate after taking the Poppie's Pond leap after winning the ANA Inspiration.

Now Lee is gearing up for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Club in Pennsylvania, the season’s third major championship. She has twice finished in the top 10 at the tournament, most recently in 2019.

And having won the first major of her career, Lee has regained her passion for the game.

“I feel I gained extra confidence after winning. Also, I’m having fun with golf now. I feel it [the win] turned every little thing reverse. I feel I type of know the way to play golf now. Prior to this, I did not know the way and what to do, however now I’ve the sensation I do know what to do.”

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