AUSSIE teenager Minjee Lee stormed home with an 8-under 64 to win the Lotte Championship in Hawaii and claim her second LPGA title.
The 19-year-old West Australian had a two shot lead after the second round at the Ko Olina course but her third round 74 looked to have spoilt her chances. She was back at sixth, five strokes behind the lead.
But her coach helpfully pointed out all she needed to do was shoot 8-under in the final round – and she basically did. (Now why didn’t I think of that in the last club championship?)
Lee played her final eight holes in six-under, including a chip in for an eagle on the par-5 13th, to triumph at 16-under and win by a stroke from third-round leader Katie Burnett (70) and US Women’s Open champion In Gee Chun (67), who tied second.
“Yesterday I spoke to my coach and he said ‘You’re only five back, just shoot eight under and you’ll be fine,'” Lee said after her win. “I just did all I could do and here I am.”
Lee, in only her second full season on the pro, won her first LPGA title in May last year at the Kingsmill Championship. She becomes just the fifth LPGA player with multiple victories before turning 20, joining current world No.1 Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Marlene Hagge and Sandra Haynie.
“I haven’t really thought about it that way,” Lee said. “I mean, as a player you’re always harder on yourself. No, I know that I’m doing pretty good, so I’m trying to be even better every day. That’s just my mindset.
“This is definitely a big confidence booster. The last couple of weeks I was there, but not quite. Now my game seems to be coming together and that’s quite nice.”
Lee is projected to move to world No.12 following the win.
Lee wins Lotte Championship: Final Round Highlights Video
Day squanders US PGA Tour lead
Meanwhile, men’s No.1 Jason Day was in a similar position to Lee after the second round of the RBC Heritage Classic on Hilton Head Island, but in a three way tie for the lead.
Day admitted to being “a little tired physically and mentally” after a roller-coaster three weeks including back to back to wins then a “disappointing” T10 at the Masters.
The 28 year old Aussie certainly looked it in the third round when he appeared listless and just couldn’t seem to sink a putt. He crashed out with an 8-over 79 as former world No.1 Luke Donald took over the 54 hole lead and it seemed like English golfers might go back to back in the US.
But it was South Africa’s Branden Grace (66) coming through at the end, finishing on 9-under to beat Donald (71) and Scotsman Russell Knox (67).
The 27 year old Grace was delighted with what was his first US PGA TOUR victory.
“This really puts the cherry on top of the cake,” said the seven time European Tour winner. “And I’m excited for things to start.”
“I can tick this one off the box and head into the next couple of majors trying to win it. I have one notch, I’ve done it before and I can do it again.”
Idiosyncratic pro debutante Bryson DeChambeau (68) finished tied fourth in his opening outing, along with another “idiosyncratic” golfer in Kevin Na (69). (And I think we are all going to have to learn to spell DeChambeau, without checking, very quickly).
Aaron Baddeley (68) on 3-under and T9 was the top Aussie, with Jason Day (68) coming back a little to finish on 1-under tied for 23rd along with John Senden, who scorched home with a 65. Marc Leishman (73) had his moments, finishing on even at T30.
European Tour sees another English victory
It was happy news for the English in the first European Tour stand alone event in a while, with Andrew Johnston captured his maiden title at the Spanish Open at the Real Club Valderrama.
Johnson shot a final round 1-under 70 to win the event by one stroke at 1-over par. The final leaderboard looked a little odd, with no one managing to get to par. That last officially occurred when Justin Rose won the US Open at Merion in 2013.
No Aussies made the cut.
Senior and Parry still toiling on Champions Tour
Peter Senior had a mid-field finish at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic at the
TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, finishing on 1-under, tied for 30th while Champions Tour rookie Craig Parry is still finding his feet (T66).
The event was won by American Woody Austin (64) on the second playoff hole against fellow countryman Wes Short Jr (68).
After his emotional final Masters appearance last week Tom Watson had the crowd all aflutter with his tournament leading opening round 68, but came back to earth with a second round 76. The 66 year old 8-time major winner bounced back with a 68 in the final round to finish T17.