Clifton, N.J. - Defending champion, Minjee Lee returns to Clifton, New Jersey, and the Upper Montclair Country Club, as the Cognizant Founders Cup kicks off in earnest on Thursday.
"Yeah, I mean, I think probably my most lasting memory is taking a picture after I won with all the girls. I think, yeah, probably that moment just after," Lee said, reflecting on her win last year. "I was just thinking back the other day. It was like the past, present, and the future of all the girl's golf and women's golf, so this tournament means a lot to me. Having won last year and being back defending this year, I think it's going to be a special week."
Having won last year and being back defending this year, I think it's going to be a special week.
~ Minjee Lee on being back at the Cognizant Founders Cup
So far this year, Lee, currently ranked sixth in the Rolex Women's Golf Rankings, has struggled. Her highest finish to date was a tie for 41st place at The Chevron Championship last month, while her best to par score was an even finish at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.
While Lee has struggled to start the year, it was her win in Clifton last year that acted as a springboard to greater success in 2022. After winning the Founders Cup, Lee went onto climb as high as third in the world rankings and won the second major of her career at the U.S. Women's Open. Lee is hoping to do the same this week.
"Yeah, I mean I kind of jump started my season I guess, so I was striking the ball really well here, and because the golf course is quite demanding, I feel like all parts of my game came together for that win, so gave me a lot of confidence for the next couple weeks and obviously the U.S. Open," Lee said. "So, yeah, really have great memories here and hoping to do the same this week."
Most recently, Lee helped Team Australia to a surprising second place finish at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown. Lee teamed up with Stephanie Kyriacou in pool play to go 2-1-0. Lee then teamed up with Sarah Kemp to earn a surprising semifinal victory over the Swedish pair of Madelene Sagstrom and Maja Stark in their semifinal match before falling to sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand in the finals.
Lee looks to carry the momentum from the International Crown into competition this week.
"I was striking the ball really well last week, despite the cold," Lee said of her play at the International Crown. "The last day I felt a little more comfortable with where I was at with my game, and hopefully I can bring it on this week."
Lee tees off to begin her Founders Cup title defense Thursday at 1:21 p.m. from the 10th tee at Upper Montclair Country Club. Thursday's action from the Founders Cup will air live on NBC GOLF Channel from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the action will also be streamed on Peacock and the NBC Sports App from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- This is the 12th edition of the Cognizant Founders Cup and it will be the third time it has been played in New Jersey. In 2021 the Founders Cup was hosted at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell and Upper Montclair Country Club also hosted the 2022 edition of the tournament.
- New Jersey native Katie Lu will be in the field as a sponsor invite. Lu, an amateur, is currently a sophomore at Michigan State and is currently playing in the NCAA Regionals with the Spartans. She will arrive in Clifton for the Founders Cup on Wednesday.
- Eight of the top-10 players, including Lee, in the Rolex Women's World Golf rankings will be competing in Clifton this week. The seven players in the top-10 competing, besides Lee, are: No. 1 Nelly Korda, No. 2 Lydia Ko, No. 3 Jin Young Ko, No. 4 Lilia Vu, No. 5 Attaya Thitikul, No. 7 Lexi Thompson, and No. 10 Georgia Hall.
- Vu won the LPGA Tour's first major of the season at The Chevron Championship and Thitikul was a member of Thailand's International Crown winning team
Thursday and Friday Groups to Watch
- No. 2 Lydia Ko (NZL), No. 14 Hannah Green (AUS), No.1 Nelly Korda (USA)
- Thursday: 1st tee at 8:21 a.m.
- Friday: 10th tee at 1:21 p.m.
- No. 3 Jin Young Ko (KOR), No.4 Lilia Vu (USA), No. 15 Nasa Hataoka (JPN)
- Thursday: 10th tee at 1:10 p.m.
- Friday: 1st tee at 8:10 a.m.
- No. 7 Lexi Thompson (USA), No. 6 Minjee Lee (AUS), No. 11 Celine Boutier (FRA)
- Thursday: 10th tee at 1:21 p.m.
- Friday: 1st tee at 8:21 a.m.
- For New Jersey rooting interests, Budd Lake native Karen Chung, and Plainsboro native Katie Lu (amateur) will be competing in the same grouping. On Thursday they will tee off from the tenth tee at 2:16pm and on Friday they will tee off from the first tee at 9:16 a.m.