When Jeongeun Lee6 was 4 years old, her father, a truck driver, was paralyzed in an accident after falling asleep at the wheel.
But despite the family hardship, Lee6 still pursued an amateur and ultimately a professional career in golf, playing in the LPGA of Korea Tour (KLPGA) before moving on to the LPGA.
It has paid off big time. On Sunday, the rookie from the Republic of Korea won the 74th US Women’s Open at the Country Club of Charleston, South Carolina, for not only her first major title but also her first career LPGA victory.
Lee6 — who turned 23 last week — earns $1 million in prize money with the win. That’s the second-largest amount for a winner on the LPGA; the CME Group Tour Championship will pay out $1.5 million to the winner in November.
And her last name is not a typo. Lee6, who prefers to go by “Six,” uses the number at the end of her last name because she was the sixth player named Jeongeun Lee in the history of the KLPGA. But instead of staying in South Korea, where her family is, Lee6 wanted to make the move to play in the LPGA in the US.
“By looking at my family situation back then, I thought about wanting to play golf because I wanted to support my family no matter what,” Lee6 said through a translator. “And after I became successful in (the) KLPGA for three years, thinking about that, this makes me want to play more.”
Her fan club in South Korea is called “Lucky 6.” And that number featured prominently on Sunday, as Lee6 won with a final score of 6-under par after shooting a 1-under 70 on Sunday.
“As I’m a rookie player, I thought — I mean, I just wanted — I didn’t even expect to win the tournament this fast,” Lee6 said. “I think this is very lucky that I won this major championship tournament.”
When asked what she would do with the money, Lee6’s response garnered laughs in the media center.
“So my goal was, if I win the tournament, I can eat ramen,” Lee6 said. “That was my goal. If I finish the top five, I can buy shoes. But I can buy shoes and eat ramen. So it’s a double.”