For the second straight week on the LPGA Tour, 72 holes couldn’t decide a winner of the BMW Ladies Championship. But as the dust settled on Sunday at Seowon Hills, a familiar face rose to the occasion to earn her 10th Tour victory and first in the Republic of Korea, Minjee Lee. Lee, who won her second playoff appearance of the season, found herself in the winner’s circle for the second time in three events after claiming her first win of the season at the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G this past September. Lee defeated Alison Lee on the first playoff hole, but it took an effort to getting to the 73rd hole.
Starting the final round atop the leaderboard with co-leader Ashleigh Buhai, the Australian notched her first two birdies of the day on Nos. 6 and 7 before dropping a shot on No. 9. With the lead constantly changing between a slew of players, Lee kept focused on the task at hand: make as many birdies as possible, and see what happens. After the turn, she made three more birdies on Nos. 10, 13 and the par-5 15th. She made it onto the green in one on the reachable par-4 17th, this week’s Aon Risk Reward Challenge Hole, but three-putted to walk away only with a par.
Meanwhile, Alison Lee - in the penultimate grouping - gave it her all, carding a 5-under 67 in the fourth round. Just one stroke back of leaders Buhai and Lee, Alison birdied three of her first nine holes, but carded her first bogey of Sunday on No. 12. She closed with a par, one bogey and four birdies in her last six holes, including two on 17 and 18 to take the clubhouse lead as Minjee stared down the 18th. After finding the fairway, Minjee’s approach landed in front of the green, but she managed to make par to join Alison for another go around.
On the extra hole, both found the fairway and green easily, with Alison looking at a 12-foot birdie putt, and Minjee a six-footer. A. Lee went first, but missed on the attempt. M. Lee knocked it in, earning the special victory in front of family and friends. “Going into the back nine, the first probably five holes, I wasn't quite as nervous. I was probably a bit more excited than nervous to be fair,” said Lee. “These last few holes, I was quite excited to play, and you know, we always want to be putting ourselves in that position, in the contending position, week-in, week-out and I was lucky enough to do it this week. It's just really fun to play in those type of conditions and those situations, so I think I really had fun out there this week.”
This was Lee’s second playoff in the Republic of Korea, after losing to Carlota Ciganda at the 2016 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship. It was a disappointing end to the week, but Lee hopes to take this experience into the rest of the season. “ We're nearing towards the end of the season. I feel really good about my game. I feel like I'm hitting it so well and I had so many putts this week lip out, and I can't stop thinking about all those small mistakes that I potentially made,” said Lee. “Yeah, really happy for Minjee. She obviously played really well. It's disappointing that I couldn't make my birdie putt and give it another shot playing 18 another time, but it is what it is.”
Lydia Ko recorded her fourth-straight sub-70 round to finish in solo third at -14. After a birdie on the first, she went on to card two bogeys on 7 and 15 and four more birdies on Nos. 9, 11 17 and 18. Angel Yin, coming off her victorious week at the Buick LPGA Shanghai, finished fourth at -13, while five players tied for fifth at -12: Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Jeongeun Lee6, Atthaya Thitikul, Jiyai Shin and Celine Boutier. Buhai dropped after a 2-over 74 into a tie for 13th by the end of the round. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lilia Vu had her lowest round of the week - a 66 - to finish T38 at -3.