Na Lee exploded onto the KLPGA tour in 2002. As a 20 year old rookie
phenom she won several times, and ended up the top player on the
money list and Player of the Year. She also got to play in two LPGA
events: the Samsung, where she finished second to last (19th) (and
where I saw her in person!), and the Sports Today CJ Nine Bridges
Classic, where she finished 41st.
had a less successful 2003 campaign. She was leading the KLPGA early
in the year, and qualified to play in the Samsung Championship on
the LPGA as a result (though again she finished far down the field
there). But later in the season, several players caught her, and
she ended up finishing 4th on the KLPGA money list for the year.
This meant that she did not qualify to play on the Pinx Cup team
in 2003, nor was she named to it as an alternate, even when Gloria
Park had to drop out.
was also not able to qualify for the LPGA tour at Q-School in 2003.
In 2004, she played the Futures Tour, where she finished 23rd on
the money list. She then went to Q-School, where she earned an Exempt
card for the 2005 LPGA season by finishing tied for 25th.
2005, Mi Na Lee changed her name to Mee Lee. Apparently she wasn't
fond of that, for a few months into the 2005 season, she changed
it again, this time to Meena Lee. She started her rookie season
on a bad note, missing at one point 7 of 8 cuts. But she eventually
found her speed, and nearly won the Corning Classic in May. She
was tied for the lead on the final hole, but made double bogey.
A few months later, she again came very close to winning, this time
at the HSBC Women's World Match Play. She ended up losing in the
finals to Marisa Baena on the final hole. Third time was the charm,
though. When next she got into contention, at the BMO Financial
Canadian Women's Open, she won, becoming the third first time winner
among the Koreans in 2005.
ended up finishing an astonishing 7th place on the money list. What's
even more amazing is that she didn't come close to winning Rookie
of the Year despite that finish. Still, that's a fantastic year
for her, one of the top Rookie campaigns for a Korean ever.
2006, she wasn't as consistent as she was in 2005, but when she's
been good, she's been great. In only her second event of the year,
she blazed past Michelle Wie, caught rookie Seon Hwa Lee on the
last hole, then beat her in a three hole playoff to capture her
second career win. She looked like she would get her third win at
the Corning Classic, but Hee-Won Han caught her on the final hole
and beat her in a four hole playoff. Meena's biggest misfire was
forgetting to send her application in for the US Women's Open; she
thus was not able to play that important event. But she still finished
in the top twenty on the money list for the second straight year
(she finished 19th).
the end of the year, Meena Lee played an integral part in the victory
of South Korea at the Kyoraku Cup, and the Asian team win at the
Lexus Cup. In fact, she was undefeated at the Kyoraku Cup and walked
off with the MVP award.
was not a great year for Meena Lee. She only collected two top tens
all season, and finished 48th on the money list, by far her worst
finish since joining the LPGA. 2008 was much better; she finished
32nd on the money list that year. She also had a great chance to
win her third LPGA event. That chance came at the P&G Beauty
NW Arkansas Championship. She ended up duking it out with Seon Hwa
Lee for the title; back in 2006, Meena had beaten Seon Hwa in a
playoff to capture the Fields Open. This time, Seon Hwa made a birdie
on the final hole, and when Meena was not able to match that, Seon
Hwa got the win with Meena second.
had an all right 2009 season, although it was far off the form she
exhibited in her glory days. She only had one great result, a tie
for third at the Evian Masters thanks to a final round 65. She just
missed the playoff won by Ai Miyazato. Otherwise, Lee did not contend,
but still played well enough to finish 34th on the money list.
results in 2010 were fairly similar. Although not coming anywhere
close to her best years, she still finished 33rd on the money list
with two top tens.
2011, she had a fairly strong season, placing 28th on the money
list with over $400,000 in earnings. She shot the best score of
her career, a 64, at the NaviStar Classic, and notched her first
ever (!) top ten at a Major when she finished tied for 6th at the
LPGA Championship. She had a total of four top tens during the year.
continued her decent play in 2012, finishing 38th on the money list
with over $350,000 earned. Her best week came in Hawaii at the Lotte
Championship, when she finished tied for 2nd. She had another top
ten at the Navistar later in the year.
2013 was not quite as strong as her 2012, but she still had a few
highlights to remember. She made 2 back-to-back top tens during
the summer; during one of them, the Marathon Classic, she shot her
career best score, a 9 under par 62. She finished 45th on the year's
had one of her strongest seasons in years in 2014. Although she
did not win, she did notch her best ever Major finish, a tie for
5th, at the US Women's Open. She also had a T-11th finish at the
LPGA Championship. In all, she made nearly $600,000, had five top
tens, and finished 26th on the money list.
was an off year for Meena in 2015, and she may have been struggling
with injuries, as her final event of the year was the Evian in September.
Her best finish was a tie for 16th at the ShopRite, and she missed
a bunch of cuts. She finished the year with just under $100,000
earned, 91st on the money list. Thus, she sunk to category 11 status
really struggled in 2016; she did not even finish in the top 50
at any tournament she played. She finally decided to retire after
playing her final LPGA event in late June. Congratulations to Meena
Lee on a long and successful career, and good luck to her in her