Mina Harigae wins $1,080,000 for second place
SOUTHERN PINES, NC — Mina Harigae’s biggest takeaway after finishing second at the 77th U.S. Women’s Open?
That she can handle this kind of moment. What belongs.
Those are the intangibles, at least. Practically speaking, Harigae collected the biggest prize in LPGA history for a woman who didn’t win. His historic salary of $1,080,000 at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club is literally life changing. At the start of this week, she had earned $84,721 on the season and $2.9 million over her 12-year career. (Less taxes and expenses, of course.)
Forget private jets. On the eve of the championship, Harigae said a payday like this would give him enough money in the bank to book commercial flights in the coming months.
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While regular Minjee Lee built an insurmountable lead, Harigae found herself tied with Lydia Ko and Hyejin Choi on Sunday. A birdie on the par-5 15th, however, gave Harigae the breathing room to hold onto his second-place solo finish. Rookie Choi won $685,043 for third place.
For more perspective, consider that when Ko won the Gainbridge LPGA, she won $300,000. This week, she won $399,982 for her fifth-place solo finish.
“I’m not going to lie,” said Harigae, “my stomach hurt on the last two holes going down. I was really stressed, but really focused on one shot at a time, making solid contact and hitting good putts.
Not too long ago, in 2019 in fact, Harigae was in nearby Pinehurst, North Carolina, competing in the LPGA Q-Series, battling to hold on to his card.
In 2020, Harigae played on the Cactus Tour when the LPGA was closed during the pandemic, winning four times with crazy low scores and earning paychecks of around $2,000. She hadn’t had a sponsor for years by then, and the generosity of her friends and family kept her going.
“I felt very helpless,” she said golf week Last year. “I felt like I was racing against time…the walls were closing in on me.”
Fast forward to 2021, and a more mature, joy-filled Harigae has found herself one of US captain Pat Hurst’s three Solheim Cup picks. A remarkable rise for a player who showed such promise as a youngster, winning four California State Women’s Amateur Championships and the US Women’s Amateur Public Ties.
This week, she took her progress to a new level.
“It’s definitely one or two of the best moments of my career,” said Harigae, who is still chasing his first LPGA title. “Obviously just the prize money, but second solo in a major, and that’s by far my best. Really happy with that.
Next year the US Women’s Open will visit Pebble Beach for the first time. Harigae grew up in Monterey, California, and her parents own Takara Sushi in Pacific Grove. Harigae estimates she has played at Pebble Beach more than 30 times and her lowest competitive round is a 7-under 65.
“I have so many great memories at Pebble Beach,” she says, “and it’s my favorite place on earth. I’m really looking forward to it next year.”