Minjee lee – file photo
Australian Minjee Lee has been unable to convert the three shot lead she enjoyed through 12 holes of her final round of the Hana Bank Financial Group Championship, eventually losing a playoff at the third extra hole to 20 year old Korean LPGA Tour rookie, Song Ga Eun.
It was Lee’s second consecutive runner-up placing having finished in a share of that position in Arkansas last week.
Lee took a one-shot lead into day four but was quickly challenged throughout the opening nine before birdies at the 10th and 11th holes swept her to a three shot lead.
A bogey at the 15th would prove costly for Lee however as Song birdied the 13th and 18th to draw level.
And so it was to a playoff, both players parring the first two extra holes before tournament officials made the unusual decision to switch hole locations on the par 5 18th, moving it from back left to a position nearer the front of the green.
Song responded with a stunning 3rd shot to 2 feet on the third playoff hole and although Lee responded with a solid approach of her own to 10 feet, her attempt to effectively keep the playoff alive failed when her birdie putt slipped by and it was left to Song to claim the title by holing her short putt.
The playoff pair finished one shot clear of the 3rd placed Ji Yeong Kim and Su Ji Kim with New Zealander Lydia Ko finishing in a share of 5th with two others.
Song won $A315,000 (equiv) for the win while Lee added another $A190,000 (equiv) to her already bulging bank balance.
For Lee, however, her impressive week will no doubt reward her corporate sponsors Hana Bank whose parent company, the Hana Financial Group, were also the tournament sponsors, the conglomerate also a sponsor of Lydia Ko.
Song, in her first season on the KLPGA Tour has now moved to 8th place on their money list with earnings of $A550,000 equivalent.
Ga Eun Song – photo Hana Financial Group