TROON, Scotland – Mi Hyang Lee is the new comeback kid.
The Korean entered the weekend at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at four-over par, in a tie for 39th and nine-strokes back of 36-hole leader Cristie Kerr. She posted the low round of the day on both Saturday and Sunday with rounds of 68 – 66 to win by one at six-under par.
Lee took moving day quite literally as she began the weekend at Dundonald Links nine-strokes back after opening rounds of 73- 75. After her round Sunday, Lee revealed her clubs hadn’t arrived in Scotland until Wednesday, so she played with a rented set for her Tuesday practice round and it took her a few days to adjust.
“I think the first and second round was, I hit it really good, but just I missed a lot of putts. So I tried to practice my putting with the wind. I made a lot of putts yesterday, so I took a lot of confidence from yesterday,” Lee said.
She leaped into contention during Saturday’s extreme weather with a four-under par, 68 to climb back to Even par and six-strokes back of Webb.
Sunday, she picked up exactly where she left off with a 31 on her outward nine that put her in a tie at the top with Webb. But Lee cooled on the back, with eight consecutive pars and was unaware of what was happening behind her with Webb. She went on to make a well-timed birdie at the 72nd hole, which proved to be the one-stroke difference that earned her a second career win on Sunday.
“It was a really surprise for me, and then just my front nine is amazing, and then I think I got a good start from my first hole,” Lee said about her victory. “Then just my back nine is a little up-and-down, but I made a lot of putts. I made a lot of good putts and then a good chip shot, too. Just I think hole-by-hole, simple.”
But the story for much of the day was Karrie Webb.
In less than an hour’s time, the 54-hole leader went from fist pumping in celebration at the par five, 14th where she chipped in for eagle to lead by two, to trailing by two with one hole to play.
Tied with Lee at five-under par, Webb chipped in for eagle at the par five, 14th to take a two-stroke lead and looked in command of her game as she nearly holed out at the next hole.
But then at the 16th, she missed a short putt to save par and her round continued to unravel from there. Now leading by one with three to play, Webb hit what she thought was a solid drive at the 17th, but it took an awkward kick into the fairway bunker at the par four, the first bunker Webb found this week.
“I bent down, picked my tee up, thought I hit a perfect drive there. When I stood up, I went to tell Johnny that I absolutely knotted my 3-wood exactly how I wanted and he said it kicked into the bunker,” Webb said after her round. “I have no idea how it did that.”
From there she was forced to chip out backwards, unable to scale the wall that stood between her and the green. She then hit her approach in to the greenside bunker up ahead. On the green in four, Webb two-putted for double bogey to fall two-back with one hole to play. With no leaderboard on the final hole, Webb was unaware that Lee was already in the clubhouse at six-under and she would need eagle to tie. Her approach found the greenside bunker at the par five, 18th.
“Well, my bunker shot, I said to Johnny, ‘I don't know if I need to hole this or get it up-and-down.’ Imagine if you went for it and overplayed it and you only had to get it up-and-down,” Webb said. “I was trying to make it but also not being overly aggressive.”
Webb got up and down for birdie to ease some of the pain of the prior two holes. She carded a final round, one-over par, 73 to finish tied for second with Mi Jung Hur.
“Very gutted,” Webb described her feelings afterwards. “I was on a high, making the eagle, and then I had a very nice up-and-down on the next. Obviously there were nerves there, but there was a good calmness there.”