Golf: Andrea Lee captures LPGA Tour's Portland Classic with final-round charge

Andrea Lee fired a six-under 66 to finish 72 holes on 19-under 269 at Columbia Edgewater in Portland, Oregon. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES - Former world amateur No. 1 Andrea Lee reeled off eight birdies in a 12-hole stretch on Sunday (Sept 18) to win the Portland Classic and capture her first career LPGA Tour title.

The 24-year-old American fired a six-under 66 to finish 72 holes on 19-under 269 at Columbia Edgewater in Portland, Oregon.

"It's more than I could imagine," Lee said after her breakthrough triumph. "I can't believe it. I'm speechless."

Her charge was good enough for a one-stroke victory over Ecuador's Daniela Darquea, who closed with three consecutive birdies to shoot 66 and finish on 270.

A third-place pack on 271 included South Korea's An Na-rin (64), Australia's Hannah Green (67), Japan's Ayaka Furue (68), Germany's Esther Henseleit (66) and American Lilia Vu (68).

Lee had lost her LPGA Tour playing rights last year but battled back with top play, sponsor exemptions and a developmental tour victory in April to reclaim her spot.

On Sunday, she made the most of her second chance.

"I just can't believe I'm standing here after what I went through last year and the beginning of this year," Lee said. "I'm still in shock right now."

She shared the 54-hole lead but stumbled with birdies at the second and third holes, only to birdie three in a row starting at the par-five fifth.

"I just told myself to stay really patient because I still had a lot of golf left," she said.

She began the back nine with a birdie at the par-five 10th and then ran off three birdies in a row starting at the par-five 12th.

She added a birdie at the par-three 16th and closed with two clutch pars to hold off Darquea's late charge.

"I just kept going on the back and I made five birdies," Lee said. "It was nice to keep going that way. I still can't believe that."

She dedicated the victory to her grandfather, who died last November.

"He always believed in me and believed I was a champion," she said. "And today I am one."

Furue and Vu, who each fired 68, had shared the 54-hole lead with Lee.

Furue had won her first LPGA Tour title in July at the Scottish Open after winning seven Japan Tour crowns.

Vu, also a former world amateur No. 1, missed out in her bid for her first LPGA title. AFP

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