Lee – grinding today at the 7th hole – photo PGA of America
Minjee Lee came within just one one shot of a second major title in less than a month and her third overall when finishing tied for runner-up behind In Gee Chun at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at the Congressional Country Club near Washington D.C.
An approach to 2 feet at the last after three-putting the 17th put Lee right back in the picture as Chun and Lexi Thompson, playing in the final group of the day, began the feel the pinch in a final round where so much was on the line. Not only was a winning purse of US$1.35 million in the US$ 9 million event at stake but so too was one of the most significant titles in women’s golf.
Lee’s effort was made even more special given the fact that she bogeyed her opening two holes of the day.
Chun began the day with a three shot lead over Thompson and former Australian Amateur Champion Hye Jin Choi, but with an outward nine of 40 by Chun and 35 by Thompson the American was two ahead of both Chun and Choi as they headed to the 10th.
Thompson appeared on track for her first win in three years and her first major since her win at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2014 when still two ahead through 13 holes but a missed par putt from less than 2 feet at the 14th seemed to unsettle Thompson and although she birdied the 15th she was unable to capitalise on the reachable par 16th and made bogey and when she three putted the 17th she fell one behind Chun who had birdied the 16th.
Both players parred the last but Lee, who has begun her final round twenty minutes ahead of the final group, had posted a round of 70 to lead in the clubhouse. Lee had three putted the 17th at a costly moment and although she hit a magnificent approach at the dangerous last it appeared her prospects were slim.
Chun and Thompson both parred the last and the title was Chun’s – her third major having won the 2015 US Women’s Open and the 2016 Evian Championship and her first LPGA Tour title in four years.
Lee and Thompson tied for second place with both earning a cheque for US$718,000 and Lee taking her season’s earnings to US$3.36 million and well clear in the Race to the Globe and money list rankings.
“It was hard, but it was super fun,” said Lee referring to her final day. “We play for these types of Sundays. It was just a whole lot of fun. Because the difficulty was that much harder and the wind was up, I think that’s what made it even better.
“So I think it was just kind of perfect because the first three days it was really quite soft, and today you kind of guessed a little bit on how much it was going to roll or if it was going to stop. I think that was an element of guessing there. I think it was just a really great setup.
“I pretty much had my eye on the leaderboard the whole day. I followed it pretty much every single hole when I could see it, so I knew exactly which position I was in. I knew coming down 18 maybe a birdie would get me close because I did bogey the 70. I gave it a good shot today.”
Former champion and fellow West Australian Hannah Green finished tied for 5th with four others and earns US$274,000 while rookie Stephanie Kyriacou from Sydney produced a very meritorious tie for 10th and earns by some way her biggest cheque in the game US$156,000.
Hannah Green today – photo Montana Pritchard PGA of America
Stephanie Kyriacou – huge cheque for impressive finish