Lee beats Hull in playoff to win LPGA Queen City crown

Australia’s Minjee Lee birdied Sunday’s second playoff hole to defeat England’s Charley Hull and win the LPGA Queen City Championship while China’s Yin Ruoning finished third to become world number one.

Lee blasted her approach from the left rough to within three feet of the hole on the decisive third playing of the par-4 18th, and, after Hull missed her birdie putt, the Aussie tapped in for her ninth career LPGA triumph.

“I played every shot to the best I could and won the playoff so it feels nice,” Lee said.

World number 13 Lee fired a one-under par 71 while ninth-ranked Hull charged late to shoot 69, leaving both on 16-under 272 after 72 holes at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Yin fired a 67 to finish third on 274, two strokes ahead of American Ally Ewing, and the 20-year-old Asian star overtook American Lilia Vu to become the second Chinese woman to reach world number one after Feng Shanshan in 2017 and 2018.

“It means a lot. For me it’s like dream come true,” Yin said.

“I’ve got goosebumps. World number one is the big step on the way to chasing Shanshan.”

Lee sent her approach at the par-4 12th out of bounds left of the green on the way to a double bogey while Hull’s second found a watery grave as she made bogey, leaving Lee on 16-under with a three-shot lead.

Hull then reeled off three birdies in a row, sinking putts of eight feet at the par-3 14th, 10 feet at the par-5 15th and 15 feet at the par-4 16th hole to match Lee for the lead. Both parred the last two holes to force a playoff.

“I had a few moments where I really felt like I was losing but I wasn’t,” Lee said.

“I was just like, ‘Let’s just play ’til the end and see where it ends up,’ so I didn’t give up.”

Hull was over the green with her approach at the first playoff hole, but rolled a putt over a ridge and to the edge of the cup as two pars sent the playoff back to the 18th tee.

On the second playoff hole, Lee blasted her second shot from the left rough to within three feet of the hole, setting up her winning putt.

“My goal for the rest of the season was to finish well,” Lee said. “I wanted to reset my goals here, as this event is my last one in the States until Tampa. I just wanted to finish off on a high and I got to win so that’s really nice.”

The 27-year-old from Perth won for the first time since capturing last year’s US Women’s Open for her second major crown, having also won the 2021 Evian Championship.

“Resetting your goals is always hard after a really amazing year,” Lee said. “I feel like maybe I can reset well here and have a great Asia.”

Hull, second at the US Women’s Open and Women’s British Open this year, missed out on her third LPGA title.

– ‘Just keep patient’ –
Lee began the day with a two-stroke lead and birdied the par-5 second hole. She matched Hull’s birdie at seven and birdied the par-3 eighth to lead by four at the turn, setting the stage for Hull’s rally.

Yin, who won her first major title at the Women’s PGA Championship in June, became the fifth different woman at the top of the rankings this year after New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, Americans Vu and Nelly Korda and South Korea’s Ko Jin-young.

Yin sandwiched birdies at the par-5 second and fourth holes around another at the par-3 third and added two more at the 10th and par-5 15th.

“Today on the course I’m just thinking about like bogey-free,” Yin said. “And make as much birdie as I can and just keep patient. Be patient to every shot and I did pretty good.”

China’s Liu Yan aced the par-3 14th hole. (AFP)

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