SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Australian Minjee Lee weathered a late rally by Alison Lee to eventually defeat the American on the first playoff hole and win the LPGA South Korea tournament on Sunday.
Both players finished at 16-under 272 on the Seowon Valley Country Club course outside Seoul forcing a playoff, where the Australian made a birdie at the par-4 18th after her namesake saw her birdie attempt narrowly miss.
“These last few holes, I was quite excited to play, and you know, we always want to be putting ourselves in that position, in the contending position, week-in, week-out and I was lucky enough to do it this week,” Minjee Lee said. “It’s just really fun to play in those type of conditions and those situations.”
It was 27-year-old Minjee Lee’s 10th tour title and second win in her last three starts after claiming the Kroger Queen City Championship in Cincinnati in July. Sunday’s win makes her the third player from Australia to reach double digits in Tour victories, joining Jan Stephenson (16) and Karrie Webb (41).
America’s Lee is still searching for her first tour victory, but can count herself desperately unlucky after mounting a strong comeback to force what had appeared to be an unlikely playoff after making bogey at the 16th to trail Minjee Lee by two shots.
But clutch birdie putts at the 17th and 18th, to go with five other birdies and two bogeys, helped her finish with a 67 and draw level with the Australian, who had five birdies and a lone bogey in her round of 68.
“I feel really good about my game,” said Alison Lee. ”I feel like I’m hitting it so well and I had so many putts this week lip out, and I can’t stop thinking about all those small mistakes that I potentially made.”
Defending champion Lydia Ko, a South Korean-born New Zealander, shot 69 to finish 14-under 274 and was two strokes behind in third place.
Angel Yin (67) followed her breakthrough win at the LPGA Shanghai event last week with a fourth-place finish at 13-under 275.
Celine Boutier, who won the Scottish Open and the Evian Championship back to back in August, finished in a five-player tie for fifth. Joining Boutier (70) at 12 under were Jodi Ewart Shadoff (65), Jeonguen Lee (67), Atthaya Thitikul (69) and Jiyai Shin (69).
Overnight joint-leader, Ashleigh Buhai faded on Sunday with a 74 to finish in a tie for 13th at 10 under.
No. 1-ranked Lilia Vu shot a 66 and was in a tie for 48th at 3 under.
The South Korea tournament is the second of four in the LPGA Tour ’s Asian swing after opening in Shanghai last week. The tour moves to Malaysia and Japan over the next two weeks.
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