Women's US Open golfers eye millions

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Minjee Lee has hailed the record $US10 million ($A13.9m) purse at this week's US Women's Open as another "huge step" forward for the women's game.

In-form Lee is among five Australians in the field at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in North Carolina where they will play for a share of the richest prize pool in the history of women's golf.

The overall prize money has almost doubled from $US5.5 million to $US10 million in 2022, with the USGA committed to playing for $US12 million by 2026.

The victor on Sunday will pocket a cheque for $US1.8 million ($A2.5m), making it the most lucrative prize in women's golf.

"We're always talking about prize increases and anything to elevate the women's game even higher," Lee said.

"That is what we try to keep doing. Just for the prize money to go up each year, I think it's just a huge step in the right direction, and I think it's only going to get better and better."

When Annika Sorenstam triumphed at Pine Needles in 1996, the total prize money up for grabs was $US1.2 million.

Fresh off her first LPGA Tour win of the year three weeks ago at the Cognizant Founders Cup, Lee is bidding to become the third Australian to win the US Women's Open.

Jan Stephenson won in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1983 before Karrie Webb successfully defended her 2000 title in Illinois at Pines Needles in 2001.

Lee likes what she sees around the famous layout after playing the final eight holes on Tuesday in practice with New Zealander Lydia Ko.

"So far I've seen a lot of great things. A lot of short and long holes, so a mixture of everything," said the 26-year-old world No.4.

"I think it's going to be really exciting. Come the weekend, I think it's going to be really tough, depending on how hard they make the firmness of the greens.

"I'm really excited for the week."

Playing in her ninth US Women's Open, Lee is yet to record a top-10 finish, her best result coming in 2017 with a tie for 11th at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey.

In order to rectify that stat this week, Lee knows it will take more than her peerless ball-striking tee to green to bag a second major following her breakthrough last year at the Evian Championship in France.

"Just seeing the whole course now, there's a lot of really big greens," Lee said.

"A lot of the lag putting will be important for me and just chipping around the greens.

"There's a little bit of grain, so just got to be careful of that, and obviously ball-striking is going to be huge around here."

The other Australians in in the field this week are 2019 Women's PGA champion Hannah Green, Gabriela Ruffels, Sarah Kemp and newly-turned professional Grace Kim.

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