Lee also won her first career Major when she captured
the KB Star Tour Grand Finale, the final Major of the 2010 season.
Despite her success in Korea, she decided she wanted
to play in Japan in 2011. She got through their Qualifying School
fairly easily, and wanted to follow Sun Ju Ahn as the Rookie of
the Year on that tour.
Things worked out somewhat differently than she
had planned. Originally, she wanted to focus on the JLPGA, and had
early success: at the year's first event, she finished tied for
third. But the earthquake in March caused the cancellation of several
events, including one in which she was tied for the lead when the
So she wound up playing a lot of tournaments on
the KLPGA instead. She had a good year, although she was not able
to win a tournament. She did wind up with the lowest scoring average
of the season. She also managed five top tens, including a runner
up and a third place finish, and finished 20th on the KLPGA money
list. Meanwhile, she also finished 40th on the JLPGA money list,
and stated she wanted to focus on that tour going forward, making
2012 her 'true rookie season' in Japan.
Lee did focus on the JLPGA in 2012, and her results
were very impressive. She won her first Japanese tour event early
in the year, beating none other than two-time Player of the Year
Sun Ju Ahn in a playoff to do it. But she really kicked it into
gear at the end of the year. She finished second at the LPGA's Japanese
event, the Mizuno Classic, thanks to a second round 64. LPGA Player
of the Year Stacy Lewis made up seven strokes on Lee in the final
round to beat her, but Lee still finished second, her best finish
in an LPGA event by far. Shortly after that, she won her second
JLPGA event, then wrapped up the year by triumphing at the Ricoh
Cup, the year's final Major. Bo Mee's three wins helped give her
around 108 million yen in earnings. She finished second on the tour
money list, behind only longtime Korean star Mi Jeong Jeon. It was
her first truly great season on that tour.
Lee also managed an 8th place finish at the Hite
Cup, the KLPGA's third Major, and a tie for 6th at the RACV Australian
Ladies Master in early February. She played at the Korea-Japan Team
Competition in December, teaming with Ha Neul Kim for a win in the
team portion before losing in singles.
Bo Mee had another strong season in Japan in 2013.
She finished 7th on the money list with two wins, including a Major
victory at the JLPGA Championship Konica Minolta Cup in September.
She also finished 7th at the Hite Cup when she returned to the KLPGA
to play in that Major.
Bo Mee had an even better 2014 season, finishing
third on the JLPGA money list with nearly 120 million yen earned.
She had three wins during the year, 17 top tens and 24 top twenties.
At one point she notched six straight top five finishes, including
two wins in that stretch. Bo Mee also finished tied for 13th at
the Mizuno Classic, her lone LPGA event of the year. Bo Mee was
one of three Koreans to finish in the top four on the money list
in 2014 (Sun Ju Ahn was #1, Jiyai Shin #4).
At the end of the year, Bo Mee played in the Korea-Japan
Team Championship. Korea won easily, and Lee contributed two wins
in the process (one single win, one win teamed with Sun Ju Ahn).
In 2015, Bo Mee Lee had not only the best season
ever achieved by a non-Japanese player on the JLPGA tour, but possibly
the best even including Japanese players. Simply put, it was a record
smashing year from beginning to end.
Lee started the year with a tie for 5th, and soon
went on a run of four straight runner-up finishes without a win.
Finally she broke through with her first win of the year at the
Hoken No Maduchi Ladies in mid-May. Then the floodgates opened.
For much of the rest of the year, Lee found herself in contention
almost every week. Lee got her second win a few weeks later, then
grabbed back to back wins shortly after that. Her fifth win came
at the Stanley Ladies in October. By that point, she was threatening
the all time record for most money earned in a season.
She didn't let up: to cap off her year, she won
two of the final three events for seven total victories in 2015.
She also had seven runner-up finishes, three thirds, and a mind-blowing
23 total top tens. Not only did she become the first woman to ever
break the 200 million yen mark, she shattered it, accumulating 230
million yen for the year. That not only was the most money a woman
had ever made in a year in Japan, it also broke the all time record
for the Japanese MEN'S tour as well!
Naturally, Bo Mee also won all the top prizes in
Japan, including Player of the Year and Scoring Average. And she
became a bit of a sensation in Japan, with hardly a week going by
all year without Bo Mee on the cover of some Japanese golf magazine
or other. She has become so popular over there that she regularly
appears in non-sports shows such as game shows or travel shows.
It helps that she speaks fluent Japanese.
The only knock on Bo Mee's season was that she did
not win one of the four Japanese tour Majors. In Gee Chun won two
of them as a guest, with Jiyai Shin and Theresa Lu winning the other
At the end of the year, Bo Mee was the captain for
the KLPGA team at the Kowa Queens, a four tour team event. Her JLPGA
friends got out to a huge lead, but Bo Mee helped stage an enormous
comeback by the Koreans on Sunday. Alas, they came up just short;
although they won all but one of the singles matches on the day,
that still was not enough to beat the JLPGA.
2016 was another incredible year for Bo Mee Lee.
Although she did not do quite as well as she had in 2015, she still
dominated the JLPGA, winning all the major awards: Player of the
Year, scoring average, and money list. She earned over 175 million
yen, leading second place Jiyai Shin by over 25 million yen. Her
scoring average of 70.09 was nearly .4 strokes better than Shin.
Lee won five times in 2016, and at one point had
a stretch of eleven straight events with top five finishes. She
notched five second place finishes, three thirds, 19 top fives (!)
and 21 top tens.
She also played four LPGA events, her best finish
a tie for 10th at the ANA Inspiration (this was also her best Major
finish to date).
Bo Mee Lee enters the 2017 season as hands down
the best and most popular player on the Japanese tour. What will
she accomplish next?