US Women's Open 2019

Six is a charm as Lee strikes it lucky

Lee6 Jeong-eun, with caddie Adam Woodward, shedding tears of joy after winning the US Women's Open and the purse of US$1 million at the Country Club of Charleston on Sunday. PHOTO: REUTERS
Lee6 Jeong-eun, with caddie Adam Woodward, shedding tears of joy after winning the US Women's Open and the purse of US$1 million at the Country Club of Charleston on Sunday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Korean rookie holds nerve to win a Major, her first LPGA Tour title, as rivals fade away

CHARLESTON (South Carolina) • For one contender after another at Country Club of Charleston on Sunday afternoon, the script was the same.

The approach shots were not pretty, and putts were not dropping. Only one player in the last five pairings was able to break par.

Her name is Lee6 Jeong-eun, a 23-year-old rookie from South Korea, and that is why she woke up yesterday as the US Women's Open champion.

To claim her first LPGA Tour and Major victory, Lee6 made her big move with birdies at the 11th, 12th and 15th holes.

And despite bogeys at 16th and 18th, she fired a one-under 70 to finish, appropriately enough, at six-under 278, winning by two strokes over American duo Lexi Thompson (73) and Angel Yin (68), and compatriot Ryu So-yeon (70).

That number is her lucky charm, with Lee6 even writing it in bold red ink on her golf ball.

She said through an interpreter: "Throughout the year, I couldn't imagine coming this far, winning the first LPGA tournament, also a Major championship.

UNBELIEVABLE

Throughout the year, I couldn't imagine coming this far, winning the first LPGA tournament, also a Major championship.

LEE6 JEONG-EUN, South Korean golfer, after winning the US Women's Open.

"I worked so hard and I feel proud of myself. This is my lucky number too, so I would love to put it down as Lee6 as my last name."

So what is with the "6" at the end of her name? On the Korean LPGA Tour, where she used to play, there had been five previous players with the identical name.

Being the youngest, she was given the No. 6, and decided to keep it once she joined the LPGA Tour.

Lee6 has embraced the change, wearing golf clothing with the No. 6 and has a fan club back home called "Lucky 6".

Those fans have had a lot to cheer about this year. Before this tournament, Lee6 had finished in the top 10 three times in eight starts and had yet to end up worse than tied for 26th.

In early April, in the first Major of the season - the ANA Inspiration - she finished joint sixth.

With Sunday's win, the ninth US Women's Open triumph by a South Korean and the 10th overall, she is projected to move up 12 places to No. 5 in the world rankings.

Taking nothing away from Lee6's performance, it was surprising none of the other rivals put pressure on her, with only her late bogeys adding any drama to the finish.

Her winning cheque is worth US$1 million (S$1.37 million), the most for a US Women's Open champion, but that is far from all - at least for Lee6.

"My goal was, if I win the tournament, I can eat ramen," she said. "If I finish in the top five, I can buy shoes. But I can buy shoes and eat ramen. So it's a double."

REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2019, with the headline 'Six is a charm as Lee strikes it lucky'. Print Edition | Subscribe