MinJee Lee wins Lotte Championship; another Top 10 for Brooke Henderson

KAPOLEI, Hawaii – Minjee Lee won the Lotte Championship on Saturday for her second LPGA Tour title, closing with an 8-under 64 for a one-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.”

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

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

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, holing a 6-foot putt.

“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 up 17th to 12th in the world ranking. “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,” Lee said. “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, going 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, missing a 16-foot birdie try on 18.

“Very tricky on the green,” Chun said. “I try 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.

Top-ranked Lydia 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.

Alena Sharp of Hamilton equaled her fellow Canadian’s final-round 68 to finish T39 at 3-under-par. Kelowna, B.C., native Samantha Richdale closed with a 77 to finish in 72nd place.

Fairways Magazine

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