HAMMOND PLAINS, Nova Scotia
Twice in her LPGA rookie season, Meena Lee had been on the verge of victory. This time, she closed the deal.
After finishing second twice in the previous six weeks, the 23-year-old South Korean finally took the next step July 17 at the BMO Financial Group Canadian Women’s Open, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to win by a stroke over Katherine Hull at Glen Arbour Golf Course. Il Mi Chung, Leta Lindley and Angela Stanford tied for third at 7 under.
Lee, who entered the event as the top money winner in the field at No. 13, earned $195,000 to jump to seventh on the LPGA money list with $643,933.
She was the fourth consecutive first-time winner on tour, tying an LPGA record. Birdie Kim began the streak at the U.S. Women’s Open, followed by Marisa Baena at the HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship and Heather Bowie at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
“I didn’t think about winning at the start, so I felt very free,” said Lee, who finished with a 9-under 279 total. “Later, I was getting nervous and very intense.”
Lee, who earned her tour card with a tie for 25th at LPGA Q-School in December, had tied for second at the LPGA Corning Classic in late May, making double bogey on the final hole to finish two behind Jimin Kang. Then, earlier this month at the Women’s World Match Play, she advanced to the final before losing, 1 up, to Baena.
Hull, a former Pepperdine standout, who was paired with Lee, birdied No. 18 to earn a solo second, her first top 5 in 37 LPGA events. Her best finish this year had been a tie for 38th.