Aussie Lee celebrates birthday with LPGA victory

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Australia's Minjee Lee celebrated her 22nd birthday with a victory in the LPGA's Volvik Championship in Michigan, a birdie at the final hole lifting her to a one-shot win over Kim In-kyung.

Lee, who took a two-shot lead into the final round, fired a four-under par 68 for a 16-under par total of 272.

A three-putt bogey at 17 had dropped her into a tie for the lead with Kim, who had capped her 67 with a tap-in birdie at the last for a 15-under total of 273.

At Travis Pointe's par-five 18th, Lee's second shot landed just right of the green. She chipped to within three feet and drained the putt for her fourth LPGA victory and her first since 2016.

"I've been playing pretty solid the whole year," said Lee, whose five prior top-10 finishes in 2018 included a playoff loss to Lydia Ko in San Francisco in April.

"It's nice to have a win before the Open," added Lee, already looking ahead to the US Women's Open that starts Thursday in Shoal Creek in Alabama.

"Next week is going to be a totally different week, so I'll just try my best. I know I'm hitting it pretty solid, I'm putting solid, so hopefully I'll have a good week."

Lee had maintained her two-shot lead through the first nine holes, picking up birdies at three of her first five holes as she produced a string of straight drives and precision iron shots.

Kim, one-under for the day through nine, gained steam with four birdies in five holes from the 10th through the 14th.

She was 14-under after a bogey at 15 but put the pressure on Lee with her closing birdie, settling for solo second one stroke in front of Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn who carded a seven-under 65.

Australian Su Oh carded a 68 and American Lindy Duncan a 69 to share fourth on 275.

Stacy Lewis, who is expecting her first child in November, started the day with a share of second but settled for a one-under 71 that left her equal seventh on 277 alongside Ariya Jutanugarn and Danielle Kang.