South Korea’s Mi Hyang Lee counted on being lucky too much during her rookie season on the LPGA Symetra Tour.
But it was newfound confidence in her game – along with a little luck Sunday – that led to Lee’s one-shot victory in the Symetra Classic at Raintree Country Club.
Lee posted her first win – and became the 13th winner in 14 Symetra Tour events by coming out strong on the front nine, then getting a few breaks on the back nine to beat out Olivia Jordan-Higgins of the Channel Islands.
“The beginning of the day, I wasn’t even anticipating winning,” Lee – whose $15,000 in winnings moved her to season earnings to $38,786, fourth on the tour money list – said through her caddie, Young Lim.
“I was lucky to finish as well as I did in the first two events this season, but I got into a little slump because I thought I would keep getting lucky. But I picked up a lot of confidence when I made my first LPGA event last week (in Williamsburg, Va.), and I felt something this week.”
Lee, who also took over the lead in the Tour’s rookie of the year standings, shot a 4-under 68 in Sunday’s final round, and a three-round total of 8-under 208. Jordan-Higgins also shot 68 Sunday, and finished at 7-under 209.
Tied for sixth after Saturday’s round, most of Lee’s birdies came on Raintree’s front nine – six in all, pushing her up the leaderboard. She faltered some on the back nine, with two birdies offset by four bogies.
“On the first hole, I made a 40-foot putt for birdie,” Lee said. “I thought it was pretty lucky to go in.
“I just wanted to have a good finish. But when I shot so well on the front nine, I thought about making a little run on the back nine.”
However, Lee also got a break – a spectacular back-nine collapse by then-frontrunner Allison Hanna.
Hanna, who went into Sunday’s final round up by two strokes, held steady with a birdie on the front nine. But the Portland, Ore., native had four bogeys – including a double on No. 13 – and a birdie over a six-hole stretch on the back nine to open the door for Lee.
“I was doing pretty good, then I just hit some bad shots,” said Hanna, who closed out at 3-over 75 to finish the tournament at 6-under 210, tying for third with Daniela Iacobelli of Viera, Fla.
“I still did pretty good this weekend. I can take this into the next tournament (the Symetra Tour event in Vidalia, Ga.). If I can win there or the next event (at Daytona Beach, Fla.), I can finish out the year pretty good.”