Perth’s Minjee Lee has played her greatest round as a professional to storm to her second LPGA Tour title in Hawaii.
Lee, 19, fired six birdies and an eagle to slice through the Lotte Championship field and win by a stroke on a dramatic final round at Ko Olina on Oahu.
The Golf Australia rookie pro, who won her first title at Kingsmill in Virginia last May, began the final round five strokes back and joked afterwards that her coach, West Australian Ritchie Smith, told her to just “go out and shoot 64”.
At the turn, that didn’t look likely with the Royal Fremantle Golf Club member going well, but only two under for the round.
But she caught fire on the back nine, going birdie-par-eagle-birdie-birdie-par-birdie between the 11th and 17th holes to storm past In Gee Chun and Katie Burnett and then scramble a brave par up the last to post a -16 total.
The emerging Korean star and American both had long-range birdie putts to reach that mark on the last green, but each left it short and left to send Lee into raptures – and the traditional champion’s hula dance.
“It’s a huge confidence booster,” said Lee, who leapt to sixth on the LPGA Tour’s CME Race to the Globe rankings.
It capped an up-and-down week for Lee, who was the halfway leader after rounds of 68-66 before an indifferent third round of 74 as all around her charged.
But Lee’s stunning 64 pipped Ai Miyazato’s 65 earlier today as the round of the week – and couldn’t have come at a better time.
Sarah-Jane Smith shot a 70 to finish T39 at -3, Su Oh was T47 after a 73 left her even par, Sarah Kemp shot a 71 to finish T59 at +1 while Katherine Kirk charged through the field with a great closing 67 to finish +3 and T62.