Song Ga Eun - Photo Credit: Hana Financial Group
Unheralded South Korean rookie Song Ga Eun claimed her first professional title with a dramatic playoff win over World No 7 Minjee Lee of Australia in the KRW1.5 billion (approx. US$1.2 million) Hana Financial Group Championship, held at Adonis Country Club near Pocheon city in northeastern Korea.
It was heartbreak for overnight leader Lee as she was denied her first win in the country of her heritage on the third extra hole after both players ended regulation play tied on 15-under-par 269. Lee carded a final round 69 on the par-71 layout while 20-year-old Song, playing in the leader flight as well, forced the playoff with a close range birdie on the final hole for a round of 68.
After the duo traded pars on the first two playoff holes at the par-five 18th, Song hit a stunning approach on the third extra hole which stopped two feet from the pin. After Lee just missed her birdie attempt from 10 feet, Song made her short putt to claim the winner’s cheque of KRW270 million (approx. US$228,306).
Lee, who was born in Perth to Korean immigrant parents, had to settle for runner-up honours for the second time in two weeks, having lost by one shot at last week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on the LPGA Tour. She had looked on course to claim her second title of the year with a two-shot lead with four holes to go, but was denied by a bogey at 15 and Song’s closing regulation birdie.
“I was nervous even before the round began, so I really feel like I’ve won and have done it. I’m even happier to have won my first tournament during my rookie year,” said an elated Song.
South Koreans Kim Ji Yeong and Kim Su Ji tied for third on 270 after closing with 65 and 69 respectively. World No 9 Lydia Ko of New Zealand meanwhile signed off with a 68 to share fifth place with locals Jang Su Yeon (68) and Ryu Hae Ran (69) on 271.
Minjee Lee - Photo Credit: Hana Financial Group
The second edition of the Korea LPGA Tour event is also part of the new Ladies Asian Tour (LAT) Series organised by the Asia Golf Leaders Forum (AGLF), a non-profit organisation founded last year to help advance women’s golf in Asia. Plans are afoot to stage more LAT Series tournaments in 2022 outside of Korea.
Malaysia’s golfing sisters Noraishah Alisa and Norezrina Alisa were among six promising young golfers from Southeast Asia who were given starts by the Hana Financial Group so they could test their skills against the Korea LPGA players and invited stars such as Lee and Ko. While they missed the halfway cut, the experience will serve them well as they progress in their fledgling professional careers.
This Article Originally Appeared Here on ParGolf