Date: July 21, 2019
Author: Mark Hayes

Lee, Ko run into fourball buzzsaw

When you shoot 58 in your final round and make just one stroke on the runaway leader, you just have to take your hat off and congratulate your opponent.

So it was for Minjee Lee and LPGA Tour teammate Jin Young Ko today in the inaugural Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational when they could barely put a dint in the break of champions Jasmine Suwannapura and Cydney Clanton.

Perth’s Lee and Korean Ko were spectacular in the closing round, teaming superbly for 12 birdies in the fourball format, enough to close within one stroke of the lead when they finished with the leaders early on the back nine.

But that only served to spark the Thai-American combination, particularly Suwannapura who poured in a scarcely believable streak of long birdie putts to pull away to safety.

“I couldn't ask for a better partner,” said Suwannapura, who earned her second career victory.

“Everything just went maybe a little bit slow on the front nine, I feel a little bit of pressure. But … we started to make some birdies and then keep the game going. It's amazing today.”

Suwannapura and Clanton’s combined 59 left them at 27 under, six clear of Lee and Ko, courtesy of six straight birdies to close their stellar performance.

Both have amazing tales of perseverance to tell, with Clanton having missed her full LPGA Tour card last year by just $8, while Suwannapura is on the comeback trail after suffering a broken back during the 2016 Kingsmill Classic.

Lee, who shot eight under herself today, was full of praise for the winners and the “fun” new tournament.

“Definitely we both played better than we did the last time we played fourballs (two days earlier),” the Aussie world No.4 said.

“We just had a better rhythm out there. I think we just fed off each other.

“Jin Young had so many birdies today, so I just tried to keep up pretty much. We just had a great day.”

Ko, the world No.2, said she was proud of their score and hopes to build off this momentum into the Evian Championship and Women’s British Open for the next fortnight.

But Ko said she was already thinking of this event next year in Michigan.

“My first time hit in the 60s, in a foursome, really great playing with Minjee. We had a really great time. I want to play next year with Minjee,” Ko said.

Hallf of Famer Karrie Webb was the next best Aussie to make the cut, eventually finishing in a share of 27th with Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe after a closing 66.

Others were Robyn Choi, alongside Jaclyn Lee in a share of 36th, while Sarah Kemp partnered Xiyu Lin en route to 39th.