Closing birdie lefts Lee to fourth LPGA title at Volvik Championship

ANN ARBOR, MI - MAY 27: MinJee Lee of Australia reacts to a birdie on the 18th green to win the LPGA Volvik Championship on May 27, 2018 at Travis Pointe Country Club Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Closing birdie lefts Lee to fourth LPGA title at Volvik Championship

LPGA Tour

Closing birdie lefts Lee to fourth LPGA title at Volvik Championship

Minjee Lee, who needed a birdie to avoid overtime, enjoyed a snack walking up the 72nd hole at the LPGA Volvik Championship. Even cool-as-a-cucumber Inbee Park doesn’t do that down the stretch.

“If I were in her position, I would not be eating,” LPGA Hall of Famer Judy Rankin said from the booth. “I would be working to swallow.”

Lee gifted herself the ultimate birthday present – her fourth LPGA victory – after a tidy up-and-down for birdie. The 22-year-old won for the first time since October 2016. Earlier this season Lee lost a heartbreaker in San Francisco when Lydia Ko hit one of the all-time great 3-woods in a sudden-death playoff.

On a postcard day in Ann Arbor, Mich., Lee birdied three of the first five holes, forcing Stacy Lewis and the rest of the field to press to the finish.

“Unbelievable, especially early,” said Lewis of Lee’s performance. “She was rolling it great early on and making everything.”

Lee went 38 holes without a bogey on the weekend before three-putting the 17th Sunday. She brushed it off – “It is what it is” – and held off a charging In-Kyung Kim and an unlucky Lewis to finish at 16-under 272.

“I feel like it was a long time coming, a little bit,” said Lee, who first won on the LPGA as at the age of 18.

Karrie Webb is experimenting with a small schedule in 2018, but her presence remains strong with proteges Lee and Su Oh finishing first and tied for fourth, respectively. Both players were recipients of the Karrie Webb Scholarship and traveled with the LPGA Hall of Famer to the U.S. Women’s Open as her guests.

With her victory, Lee ranks fourth among Aussie winners on tour, behind Webb (41 titles), Jan Stephenson (16) and Rachel Hetherington (eight).

Webb, a two-time winner of the U.S. Women’s Open, received a special exemption into this year’s championship at Shoal Creek.

Mother-to-be Lewis began Sunday trailing by two strokes but endured a one-step-forward-two-steps-back final round. The ultimate setback occurred on the 17th when a shot that should’ve ended up on the green hit a sprinkler head. The untimely double bogey was compounded by a watery approach into the 18th.

Lindy Duncan, a four-time first-team All-American at Duke, appears to have reached a new comfort level on the LPGA, posting her second top-4 finish in three weeks.

One week after Ariya Jutanugarn hoisted the trophy in Virginia, older sister Moriya posted a bogey-free 65 to finish solo third. The Jutanugarn sisters are Nos. 1 and 3 on the money list, with Ariya topping the tour. They also rank 1-2 in birdies. Neither sister has missed an LPGA event this season.

“I think golf is, you know – just golf is competitive,” Moriya said. “To have your sister and best friend compete with you and do pretty much everything, actually it means a lot and it actually makes golf fun.” Gwk

(Note: This story appears in the June 2018 issue of Golfweek.)

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