PORTLAND (Ore.) — After recovering from two early bogeys she pulled off five birdies in the back nine to win the AmazingCre Portland Classic. This was her first LPGA Tour championship.
Lee took the lead with an 18 foot birdie putt on 16th hole. Lee then hit another bunker shot left of 17th green to save par.
She was on the 18th fairway, when Daniela Darquea of Ecuador finished with a third straight par for a 66. Lee drilled her approach to 15ft and lag her putt to within inches of the pin for the win.
Lee, who was a former No. Stanfords No. 1 amateur, Lee lost her LPGA status and began the year on the Epson Tour.
Then she made a climb to get out of it. She won on the Epson Tour and took advantage of sponsor exemptions through solid play. Finally, she cashed in at Columbia Edgewater Country Club for a first win.
Her face was awash with champagne and tears as she paid tribute to her grandfather who died in the latter part of last year.
Lee stated, He always believed that I was a champion and today I am one.
It took patience and resilience to make it possible for eight players to win the final round. Every mistake seemed to be magnified.
Lee began in a three-way tie against Lilia Vu, another former No. Ayaka Furue from Japan and Lilia Vu, another former No. 1 amateur at UCLA. Lee fell off the pace immediately after bogeys on second and third holes.
Lee said, I told my self to be patient because I still had lots of golf left. I managed to make three birdies back, then I just kept going.
She was 19-under 269, and she moved up to No. 18 in Race to CME Globe
Darqueas runner up finish moved her to No. 59, which is a significant week as the top 60 advance the season-ending CME Group Tour Championships in November. Darquea was ranked No. 108 going into Portland.
Esther Henseleit, a German golfer, was the real threat to Lee. She made an 18-foot birdie putt at the par-3 13th. She tried a 6-foot birdie putt on the next hole, but it caught the lip. Lee traded birdies along the back nine.
Henseleit was one behind when she fell short of the 17th Green. She pitched approximately 12 feet long, and missed her par putt two back.
She finished third with a par for the 66 and tied for third place with Narin An (64), Hannah Green (667), Furue (68), and Vu (68).
Maja Stark from Sweden, who won the ISPS Handa World Invitational, Northern Ireland, earned her LPGA card. She made five straight birdies on nine and was among the leaders until she lost steam. She finished eighth with a score 66.
Lee is the ninth winner of the LPGA Tour this season.
She said, Its more that anything I could have envisioned. Its unbelievable. After what I went through last yea, I cant believe its possible to be standing here.
Lee won eight times at Stanford, and she won the Mark H. McCormack Medal in 2019 as the top amateur in womens tennis. Her confidence was affected by her first two years on LPGA Tour, which included a shortened 2020 season due to the pandemic.
It was like she was starting from scratch at the beginning of the year. She ended up where she had always hoped to be.