Minjee Lee makes Australian golf history
Perth's world No.6 Minjee Lee has trumped top male pros Jason Day and Marc Leishman to become the first female winner of golf's top gong, the Greg Norman Medal.
Lee said she was "humbled" to be selected from such elite company yet her record was resonant for victories and the greatest progress of any Aussie golfer in the world top 30 this year.
The sweet-swinging 22-year-old won the Victorian Open and the LPGA's Volvik Championship in the first half of the year to propel her world ranking from No.19 to a career-high No.5.
Her consistency through 13 top 10 finishes on the tough LPGA Tour was at the heart of her best year as a young professional.
She finished top 25 in four of the five women's majors, including the Women's British Open where her hot seven-under-par 65 led after the opening round at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
Lee's breakthrough was loudly applauded on Tuesday night at the glittering Greg Norman Medal dinner at Royal Pines resort on the Gold Coast where the Australian PGA will tee off on Thursday.
Lee is playing in Korea this week and she accepted the award via videolink as the third recipient of the medal after Day (2015-16) and Leishman (2017).
"I'm humbled to have won such a prestigious award alongside two amazing golfers in Marc and Jason," Lee said.
"It's a great honour, especially to win an award attached to Greg's name when he is one of the greatest golfers to come out of Australia.
"I've had a great 2018 season and this is a really nice way to be acknowledged for that."
New dad Day, sitting at No.11 in the world, won twice on the PGA Tour early in the year to break back into the world's top 10, while Leishman's CIMB Classic victory in Kuala Lumpur in October fell inside the judging period.
Norman, Ian Baker-Finch and Karrie Webb were part of the voting panel that recognised Lee ahead of fellow nominees Day, Leishman, Cameron Smith and young Victorian Lucas Herbert, who has risen from world No.278 to No.83 this year with his bold displays in Asia and Europe.
"Australian professional golf has seen a successful year and one nominee this year stood above the rest with two tournament wins, outstanding performances in all major championships and a big move in her world ranking," Norman said via videolink from Florida.