Minjee Lee earns 4th LPGA win on 22nd birthday
Minjee Lee found an impressive way to celebrate her birthday on Sunday.
The 22-year-old Australian sank a short birdie putt on the 18th hole to win the LPGA Volvik Championship at Ann Arbor, Mich.
A bogey on the 17th hole at Travis Pointe Country Club dropped Lee into a tie for the lead with South Korea's In-Kyung Kim. On the par-5 18th hole, Lee was just off the green after her second shot. She chipped within a yard of the hole and sank the 3-foot putt.
The birdie completed a 4-under-par 68 for Lee, who wound up at 16-under-par 272. Kim, who had put the pressure on Lee by birdieing the 18th hole a short time earlier, wound up at 15 under following a 67.
"Yeah, I made bogey on the 17th, and coming off of that hole I pretty much knew I had to make birdie to win the tournament," Lee said, according to the Detroit News. "So, yeah, I was a little bit nervous on the tee, but I was probably a little bit more nervous on the second shot. I just tried to focus on where to go and just hit my shot. ...
"I feel like because it was my birthday, either way I would have been happy. Obviously it's nice to have a win, sort of a present to myself."
Lee earned her fourth career LPGA victory, fourth most among Australian players. The all-time leading champions from Down Under are Karrie Webb (41 wins), Jan Stephenson (16) and Rachel Hetherington (eight).
Lee had five previous top-10 results this year, including a runner-up finish at the MEDIHEAL Championship. Now she heads to next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club in Alabama with additional momentum.
"I've been playing pretty solid golf the whole year," Lee said. "Next week is going to be a totally different week. I know I'm striking it well and putting it well.
.".. I feel like it was a long time coming a little bit. I had a lot of good finishes, even last year and beginning of this year. Yeah, it's really nice to have a win under my belt this year. Going into the Open, it's certainly definitely nice to have a win."
Through 13 events on the LPGA this year, players representing seven countries have claimed titles: South Korea (four), United States (three), Thailand (two), Canada (one), Sweden (one), New Zealand (one) and now Australia (one).
The victory was worth $195,000, pushing Lee's career earnings to $3.69 million.
Runner-up Kim said, according to the Detroit News, "I haven't played that much this year and I had a couple hiccups here and there with the new clubs. I'm still trying out a few things. Everything's coming along and I really feel grateful for all the support and the patience with everything. I feel like it's been a lot of grinding, so it's really nice to have some kind of assurance."
Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn shot a 65 on Sunday to finish at 14 under and claim third place.
Australia's Su-Hyun Oh (final-round 68) and American Lindy Duncan (69) shared fourth place at 13 under, and American Megan Khang (67) claimed sixth place at 12 under.
Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and two Americans, Danielle Kang (70) and Stacy Lewis (71), tied for seventh place 11 under.
Defending champion Shanshan Feng of China (70) tied for 21st at 8 under.
--Field Level Media