Minjee Lee Wins 2018 LPGA Volvik Championship
Coming down the eighteenth and final hole on Sunday, Minjee Lee knew that she needed a birdie to avoid a playoff with In-Kyung Kim. Her second shot on the par five skated through the trees on the right to come up just short. A chip to five feet and a putt gave Lee the score she needed to win.
Lee described her finish:
My drive went pretty far. I didn’t expect it to go that far. I had a 5-iron in, but I sort of had to cut it around the tree and I overcut it a little bit and I was lucky not to clip the very top end of the tree. Yeah, I had a pretty easy chip shot after that shot.
Lee’s playing partner, Stacy Lewis, on the other hand did clip a tree and ended up in a nearby creek.
The birdie on 18 gave Lee a final round score of 69, and an overall score for the week of 272 (-16). It was one clear of In-Kyung Kim, whose 5 under round left her all alone in second.
The win came on Lee’s 22nd birthday.
I started off pretty solid, so I think I made three birdies on the front nine and I just pretty much was pretty steady until the end. Made one bogey on 17 and a birdie on 18. Overall I had a really solid day. I think I was striking it well and putting it pretty well.
The LPGA Volvik in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was Lee’s fourth career victory and her first of 2018. In 2017, Lee finished second, one shot behind winner Shanshan Feng.
I have been playing pretty solid the whole year and it is just nice to have a win before the (US) Open.
On her round, Lee hit 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens. She averaged 265.5 yards off the tee. With just one 3-putt, she had a total of 29 putts for the round.
In-Kyung Kim started the day as one of four tied for second. Like the others, she was unable to catch Lee from behind. Lee started with three birdies on the first five holes, quickly moving ahead. Lewis noted that is tough to catch someone who plays like that:
She was rolling it great early on and making everything. You know, I think we were both 3 under through 5 or through 6 or something. It’s hard to get close when somebody does that. But she played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn’t make any mistakes.
Kim made a valiant effort though. On the final hole, she had a chip for an Eagle that could have forced a playoff. Though close, Kim had to settle for birdie.
I felt I had to make it. I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best. I make some good shots and birdies. We’ve been on time twice on the back nine, so it was tricky for all of us I think out there. I’m just glad that we finished on time and that I’ll be able to make my flight.
On her round, Kim hit 13 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens. Her driving average was 262 yards. Two three putts were among her 28 putts for the day.
Moriya Jutanugarn finished third for the tournament after tying for the low round for the day at -7. Karine Icher also shot a -7 in the morning rounds to finish at -9 for the tournament.
Jutanugarn’s round included 11 of 14 fairways hit along with 14 of 18 greens. She is a long hitter for the LPGA, averaging 276 on the round. A total of 26 putts with no three putts marked her round.
Well, when I started, pretty far behind and I just want to have a good day today and I just, you know, promise to myself what I going to do and I really happy with that because I done it.
The ultimate fate of the Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor is up in the air at this point. Volvik has made no commitment to renewing its sponsorship deal for 2019.