PORTLAND, Oregon. In the year that Andrea Lee had to recover, Andrea Lee bounced back from two early setbacks and broke away with five birds on her back on nine Sundays to close out a 6 to 66 to win the AmazingCre Portland Classic for her first LPGA. Tour name.
Lee took the lead permanently with an 18-foot bird shot on the 16th hole and then hit a superb bunker shot to the left of the 17th green to keep par and maintain a two-stroke lead.
She was in the middle of the 18th fairway when she saw Ecuador’s Daniela Darkea finish third in a row with a birdie for 66 points from one hit. Lee extended her approach to 15 feet and trailed the punch to within inches to secure the win.
It was a real turnaround for Lee, a former Stanford No. 1 amateur whose game had veered off course to the point that her LPGA status had deteriorated, and she began the year on Epson’s developmental tour.
And then she got out of it by winning the Epson Tour, taking advantage of sponsorship perks with solid play, and finally earning money at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club for her first win.
Her face was flooded with a mixture of champagne and tears, especially as she paid tribute to her grandfather, who died at the end of last year.
Full results at AmazingCre Portland Classic
“He always considered me a champion, and today I am,” Lee said.
It required a lot of patience and resilience: eight players had a chance to win throughout the final round, and every mistake seemed to multiply.
Lee started with a three-way tie with Lilia Wu, another former UCLA No. 1 amateur, and Japan’s Ayaka Furue. Lee immediately lost his haunted pace on the second and third holes.
“I told myself to be patient because I still had to play golf,” Lee said. “I managed to get three birds back and then I continued.”
She finished 19 to 269 and moved to 18th in the CME Globe race.
Taking second place, Darkea moved to 59th, which was a big week because the top 60 will advance to the final CME Group Tour Championship season in November. Darquea was ranked 108th ahead of Portland.
Lee’s real threat came from Germany’s Esther Henseleit, who took the lead with an 18-foot par-3 birdie in 13th. She had a 6-foot bird attempt on the next hole that caught on the edge but didn’t fall, and exchanged birds with Lee along the back nine.
Henseleit was one stroke behind when she missed the 17th green, flew about 12 feet long and missed her par putt by two.
She finished with a par of 66 and tied for third with Narin An (64), Hannah Green (67), Furue (68) and Wu (68).
Maya Stark of Sweden, who earned her LPGA card by winning the ISPS Handa World Invitational in Northern Ireland, won five birdies in a row in the top nine and was among the leaders until she ran out of steam. She shot 66 times and finished eighth.
Lee becomes the ninth winner of the LPGA Tour this year.
“This is more than anything I could have imagined,” she said. “I can’t believe it, really. I can’t believe I’m standing here after what I went through last year.”
Lee has won at Stanford eight times and won the 2019 Mark H. McCormack Medal as the top female golf amateur. But her confidence was shaken during her first two years on the LPGA tour, which included a shortened 2020 season due to the pandemic.
It was like the beginning of the year, taking her to where she thought she always thought she would be.