Minjee Lee shoots 64 to Win LPGA Tour’s Lotte Championship

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Lotte Championship
Minjee Lee shot a 6-under 30 on the back nine on Saturday to capture her first win since last year's Kingsmill Championship in Virginia. AP Photo/Hugh Gentry

Associated Press

KAPOLEI, Hawaii — Minjee Lee won the Lotte Championship on Saturday for her second LPGA Tour title by closing with an 8-under 64 for a 1-stroke victory.

The 19-year-old Australian played a seven-hole stretch in 6 under with a chip-in eagle on the par-5 13th and four birdies. She rebounded from a third-round 74 to finish at 16-under 272 at Ko Olina.

“Yesterday I spoke to my coach, and he was like, ‘You’re only five back. Just shoot 8 under, and you’ll be fine,”’ Lee said. “And I shot 8 under, so that was good. …

“Just because I had a not-so-great round yesterday didn’t mean I couldn’t shoot a low score today. I just came out with, I don’t know, a fresh mindset.”

Third-round leader Katie Burnett and U.S. Women’s Open champion In Gee Chun tied for second.

Minjee Lee shot a 6-under 30 on the back nine on Saturday to capture her first win since last year’s Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.  Lee made an 11-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th and got up-and-down for par from short of the green on the par-4 18th to hole a 6-foot putt. She became the fifth LPGA Tour player to win twice before her 20th birthday, joining Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Marlene Hagge and Sandra Haynie.

“I think after I went eagle-birdie-birdie, I think the second birdie, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to be really close,'” said Lee, projected to move from 17th to 12th in the world rankings. “I just did all I could do, and here I am.”

She won the Kingsmill Championship last year in Virginia.

“Definitely a big confidence boost,” said Lee, also the 2012 U.S. Girls Junior champion. “Last couple of weeks, I was there but not quite there. Now my game seems to be coming together really well.”

Burnett shot a 70. She lost the lead with a three-putt bogey on the par-3 16th, then missed a 6-foot birdie try on 17 and a long birdie putt on 18. The 26-year-old Georgia player, winless on the tour, led most of the day and went bogey-free for 40 holes before dropping a shot at No. 7.

“I don’t think I gave it away by any means,” Burnett said. “That’s something, last year I struggled in the final rounds, especially when I had been playing well. So to have played well today was really good for me. … I don’t necessarily feel like I lost the tournament. I feel like Minjee just won it. Eight under, I mean, that’s pretty solid.”

Chun finished with a 67 after missing a 16-foot birdie try on 18.  “Very tricky on the green,” Chun said. “I try to enjoy my game, so I’m still happy.”

She tied for second for the second straight event after sitting out a month because of a back injury. She was hurt when she was struck by a hard-case suitcase that rival South Korean player Ha Na Jang’s father dropped down an escalator at the Singapore airport.

Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn was fourth at 14 under after a 68.

Su-Yeon Jang was another stroke back after a 71. Playing on a sponsor exemption, the 21-year-old South Korean player was coming off a victory last week in the Korean LPGA event sponsored by Lotte.

Brooke Henderson tied for 10th at 10 under to extend her top-10 streak to seven events. The 18-year-old Canadian closed with a 68.

 

The top-ranked Ko shot a 69 to tie for 23rd, her worst finish of the year, at 5 under. Ko won her last two starts in California and also has two seconds, a third and a tie for 15th this season. She will try to defend her title at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic next week in California.

 

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