South Korea’s “Ottogi” Lee Da-yeon defeated world No. 7 Lee Min-ji in a playoff to win another major championship.
Lee sank a 9-meter birdie putt in the third overtime on the final day of the Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Tour’s Hana Financial Group Championship (1.5 billion won in prize money) at BearsBest Cheongna Golf Club (Par 72) in Incheon on Thursday to beat Lee, who had to settle for par.
Lee, who entered the final round in a tie for fifth place, three strokes behind leader Kim Soo-ji, carded four birdies and a bogey to cut four strokes off her total and finish the 72 holes at 8-under 280, tied for the lead with Lee and Patti Tawatanakit (Thailand).
Lee shot a 2-under 70, while Tawatanakit was four strokes back.
In the first overtime at the 18th (par-4), Lee and Lee made par, but Tawatanakit was eliminated after falling into a bunker in front of the green and making bogey.
In the second overtime, Lee was frustrated to miss a par putt after hitting her first putt too long, but Lee made an unfortunate mistake when she missed the par putt by less than a meter.
In the third overtime, with the pin location switched, Lee’s second shot went 9 meters to the back of the hole and Lee left it 2 meters short, giving Lee the advantage again.
But Lee dropped her birdie putt into the hole, and Lee’s birdie putt just missed the hole.
“I told myself that even if I lost, I was still second,” said Lee, who defeated two major champions on the Women’s Professional Golf (LPGA) Tour in the first overtime match of her career. “The winning putt was a long downhill slice line putt, and I hit it aggressively for birdie rather than thinking about making it safe.”
Lee, who won the KLPGA Championship in April for her seventh career victory and third major title, is now 2-0 on the season and 8-0 in five months.
Since making her debut in 2015, Lee has always shown the resilience of an “owl,” bouncing back from adversity and crisis.
Last year, she tore ligaments in her left elbow and wrist and had her season cut short after only 10 tournaments and was unable to go to training camp, but she came back and won the major crown in only her fourth tournament.
Even after her victory in April, she was still not fully fit and would quit at the slightest pain. That’s why she withdrew three times.
But Lee, who has been taking care of her body meticulously, was able to pull off another comeback in an extravaganza worth 270 million won.
In the final round of the 2019 edition of the tournament, Lee held a three-stroke lead before losing to Jang Hana in an upset.
“It brought back memories of the final round of this tournament in 2019 when I was leading and lost, and it was such a dramatic upset that I couldn’t help but cry,” said Lee, who was in tears after securing the win. “I want to win the Hite Jinro Championship, the last major of the season, one more time.”
“I’m not greedy for the prize money,” said Lee, who moved up to third on the money list ($680,508), adding, “If I work hard rather than being greedy beforehand, I’ll have a chance one day.”
Lee Min-ji (AUS), who lost the 2021 edition of this event to Song Ga-eun in a playoff, tasted the bitter taste of another overtime defeat on the KLPGA Tour.
After shooting a 5-under-par 67 on the day, she fell one shot short of joining the extra round and had to settle for fourth place (7-under-par 281).
Defending champion Sooji Kim dropped two strokes and finished tied for fifth (6-under par 282).
In seventh place (5-under-par 283), Lee retained the top spot on the money list and the top spot on the grand prize points list.
With the $45,000 prize, Lee increased her season earnings to $1,044,454, becoming the first player to surpass the $1 billion mark this season.
Choi Hye-jin dropped four strokes to tie for 14th place (3-under par 285). 파워볼게임