23 Oct 2023 | Professional golf |
Minjee Lee grabs 10th LPGA win
by Tony Webeck
A brilliant approach at the first playoff hole clinched Minjee Lee her 10th LPGA Tour victory at the BMW Ladies Championship in Korea. Third on the all-time list of Australian winners on the LPGA Tour, the win carried extra significance for the 27-year-old Australian given it was her first in Korea, the homeland of her parents, and her grandmother and extended family were in the gallery. Tied for the lead at the start of the final round with reigning Australian Open champion Ashleigh Buhai, Lee made birdies at four and five but dropped a shot at nine to make the turn in 1-under. She got back to 14-under with a birdie at the very next hole and moved out to a two-stroke lead with further birdies at 13 and 15. But as Alison Lee closed with two birdies in the group ahead to post 16-under, Minjee was unable to find the extra shot she needed to win in regulation, posting 4-under 68 for her final round to match Lee’s 16-under total. Lee very nearly chipped-in to win on the 72nd hole and then almost holed her approach shot in the first playoff hole against Lee, converting her birdie putt from three feet before being doused in champagne by fellow Aussie major winner, Hannah Green. Just a week after younger brother Min Woo’s victory at the Macau Open, it marked another slice of history for the superstar siblings and double cause for celebration for Minjee. “Out of all the places, Korea was always at the top of my list because my parents are Korean and I have a heritage to Korea,” Minjee said. “This one is special, and especially having all of my family and extended family and friends coming out to cheer for me today, it was really cool to see them on the sidelines when I was walking down. “Winning is obviously extra special that I got to do it in Korea. But I mean, it's even more special that it's my 10th LPGA win, as well. “Overall, I can say it was an even bigger honour and even more special.” Making the win even more memorable for Minjee was its connection to history. It was Alison Lee who Minjee defeated 1 up in the final of the US Junior Girls Championship in 2012, the American forced to wait even longer for her maiden LPGA Tour title. “I actually played her in the final at the US Girls' Junior, which I kind of thought back when I was on the tee there,” said Minjee. “I was like, this kind of feels familiar. “It's nice to be able to play against somebody that you know and especially with such great talent, and it's always fun to go head-to-head with the best.”
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