A few days later, she still can’t believe it. On Sunday at the AmazingCre Portland Classic, Andrea Lee finally broke through on the LPGA Tour, defeating Ecuadorian Daniela Darquea by a single shot to become the ninth Rolex First-Time Winner of the 2022 season. Lee, who captured her first professional victory on the Epson Tour in March at the Casino Del Sol Golf Classic, had come oh-so-close a few times this year – she’s carded three additional top-five finishes – and was relieved to get the job done in Oregon.
“I still can't really believe it. I think it's still sinking in. But it was definitely one of my goals this year in the latter half of the season, and to have accomplished that, it's just so special and means so much to me,” said the Stanford alum. “Everything clicked together and I stayed super patient, especially the final round after being 2-over through three holes. Told myself to keep going, and no matter what happens, it's another great opportunity to be in contention and another great experience. But luckily it went my way.”
Coming to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G with a title finally on her resume, Lee is feeling free and confident in her game as she looks ahead to the challenge of Pinnacle Country Club, and for good reason. She currently is ranked fifth in driving accuracy (84.59%), 12th in both putts per green in regulation (1.76) and rounds under par (33) and 13th in putting average (29.32). Lee is also well inside the top-60 cutoff for the CME Group Tour Championship, jumping from 41st to 18th in the season-long standings, and although the Solheim Cup is exactly one year away, she’s looking to make the team for next year’s competition in Spain, a goal she’s well on her way to achieving considering she’s currently fifth in the standings.
“It would be the biggest honor to represent the USA at the highest level on the Solheim Cup team. I've played Junior Ryder Cups, Junior Solheim Cups, the Curtis Cup, and every time it's such a special experience being able to represent your country,” said Lee, whose Curtis Cup record is 3-3. “It would mean so much to play under Stacy. I've looked up to her ever since I was a junior golfer. She was No. 1 in the world and she's had her battles with scoliosis and she's just such a fighter. It would just mean so much to be able to have her as my captain on the Solheim Cup team. So hopefully that will happen.”
But Lee isn’t getting too far ahead of herself. With only six events left after the week in Arkansas, she’s locked in on her goals for the rest of the 2022 season, putting an emphasis on staying patient and managing her energy. Lee is also as focused as ever as she looks to finally play well at Pinnacle Country Club, a venue that’s given her fits in her previous two appearances.
“Don't have the best track record to be honest here, but hopefully that will change this week. It's definitely a birdie barrage out there. The winner always shoots at least 16, 17-under for three days, which is pretty crazy. So it feels like far more of a sprint this week than a marathon, which is usually what it is,” said Lee, who finished T74 at this event in 2021 and missed the cut in 2020. “Another win or two would be really nice to cap off the season, but I'm not going to get too greedy. I have a lot of goals, especially for next year, but for this year, having a solid end to the season basically is what would be nice.”