Golf: Australia's Minjee Lee roars to victory at LA Open

Minjee Lee collected US$225,000 (S$305,000) in prize money and boosted her career earnings to US$5.32 million, making her the third-highest winning Australian overall in purse money.
Minjee Lee collected US$225,000 (S$305,000) in prize money and boosted her career earnings to US$5.32 million, making her the third-highest winning Australian overall in purse money.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Australia's Minjee Lee pulled away from the field with a closing round of three-under 68 to capture the LA Open by four strokes and earn her fifth career US LPGA Tour title.

The 22-year-old from Perth finished at 14-under 270, four strokes ahead of runner-up Kim Sei-young of South Korea.

Lee collected US$225,000 (S$305,000) in prize money and boosted her career earnings to US$5.32 million, making her the third-highest winning Australian overall in purse money.

In terms of victories only Karrie Webb, with 41, Jan Stephenson (16) and Rachel Hetherington (eight) have more titles by an Aussie.

Lee started her fourth round on Sunday (April 28) with a one-stroke lead over Denmark's Nanna Koerstz Madsen, who stumbled to a five-over 76.

"I was just going to carry on playing my game," said Lee. "I had a couple of birdies opportunities coming in so I didn't get riled up.

"I have been hitting it solid and playing solid so this one feels pretty good."

Kim had one of the best rounds of the day with a 66 but it wasn't enough to catch Lee. Americans Annie Park, with a 67, and Morgan Pressel tied for third at nine-under, five shots adrift of Lee.

Madsen, who was seeking to become the first from Denmark to win on the Tour, finished in a tie for 13th.

Lee, who was the only player to shoot all four rounds in the 60s, made two birdies on a bogey-free front nine. She rebounded from a bogey at No. 11 with birdies at the 13th and 18th.

The win comes at a time when she is playing some of her best golf. Lee tied for third in Hawaii last week after consecutive second-place finishes in February. She hadn't won since May 2018 at the Volvik Championship.

"For the rest of year I want to try and get a couple more wins," she said.

South Korea's Amy Yang fired the low round of the day and equalled the low round of the tournament, shooting a bogey-free 64 to finish tied for fifth along with four others, including Park In-bee and world No. 1 Ko Jin-young of South Korea (69).