GEELONG (Australia) • The family double did not materialise. But Min Woo Lee emulated sister Minjee at the Vic Open yesterday to claim his maiden European Tour title, as South Korean Park Hee-young won the women's title after a play-off.
Regarded as one of Australia's most exciting young talents, 21-year-old Lee showed nerves of steel to hold on to his overnight lead with a four-under 68 tobeat New Zealand's Ryan Fox by two strokes.
"I just played awesome and out of myself. I'm over the moon," said Lee of clinching his first tournament with an aggregate of 19-under 269.
His older sister, world No. 9 Minjee, won the tournament - where men and women tee off in alternate groups on the same course and for equal prize money - in 2014 and 2018.
Since the 23-year-old's last triumph at the event - the only one of its kind in the world - it has taken on added significance with the European Tour and the United States-based LPGA Tour jointly sanctioning it for the first time last year.
Minjee, who will be in Singapore for the Feb 27-March 1 HSBC Women's World Championship, hit a one-over 73 yesterday. She finished tied for sixth, two behind Park (73), Choi Hye-jin (69) and Ryu So-yeon (72), who were locked at eight-under 281.
The Korean trio all sank birdies on the first play-off hole. Ryu was eliminated after the second, with Park winning her third LPGA title on the fourth hole after Choi hit the rough and could not recover.
Lee, a former US junior champion, went into the final round at the 13th Beach Golf Links in Geelong, south of Melbourne, with a three-shot buffer from fellow Australians Marcus Fraser and Travis Smyth.
Smyth and Fraser kept in touch with rounds of 70 each, while Fox made a late charge with a best-of-the-day 64, including an eagle at the last to apply some pressure. Lee remained focused until the 17th when he hit his first bogey of the day. But he regrouped to birdie the par-five 18th to raucous applause from the crowd.
Minjee looked on before going to the 18th green to give him a congratulatory hug.
"It was nice of her to come on... my sister and I winning the same tournament, it's pretty special. I've got bragging rights now, so it's even better," he said. "We've played twice before at tournaments and I've come out on top on the third time, so I guess I'm the better one."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE