Andrea Lee’s excellent shot on the 17th hole was stopped at one hole. It’s never a good time to find a chop, but this was an especially terrible time, given that Lee was in contention for her first LPGA title on the 71st hole of the AmazingCre Portland Classic.
She pulled her 6-iron to the left and finally went up and down with a beautiful bunker shot, as if the chop never happened.
The former No. 1-ranked fan lost her Tour card last season and played on the Epson Tour earlier this year. She hit rock bottom last April when she felt so lost on the golf course that she wanted to retire and go home. She didn’t, of course, because Lee is a fighter. And that bad luck chop wasn’t going to stop her either.
“It’s more than I could have imagined,” Lee said of his one-hit victory in Portland. “I can not believe it.”
Lee entered the final round with a chunk of the lead, but a pair of bogeys at Nos. 2 and 3 got him off to a slow start. He bounced back with three straight birdies on Nos. 5-7, and the former Stanford star joined a long list of players who had a chance late in the day at Columbia Edgewater.
Lee, a nine-time winner at Stanford, closed with a 6-under 66 to finish at 19-under and edge former Miami player Daniela Darquea by one. Darquea reached week 108 on the CME points list with just four starts on the LPGA this season, including the US Women’s Open and the Dow team event. She had played most of the season on the Epson Tour, but she made the most of her time in Portland, birdieing the last three holes to finish second.
Similarly, Esther Henseleit reinvigorated her season with a third-place run. The German player reached week 103 on the CME list. The top 100 keep their poster for the 2023 season.
Like Lee, UCLA’s Lilia Vu won big in the Pac-12 and spent time as the top-ranked amateur in the world. Both are shortlisted as rookies for next year’s US Solheim Cup team. Vu joined Henseleit for a third place split with Narin An, Hannah Green and Ayake Furue.
“Andrea played amazing,” said Vu. “She literally hits every shot like a foot, and she knew she was going to play today, I’m playing with the best hitters and, me, I’m fighting all week to find a fairway.”
Sweden’s Maja Stark made her debut as an LPGA member this week and finished eighth solo. The Ladies European Tour star won the ISPS Handa World Invitational for LPGA membership. Stark was less than satisfied with her closing 66.
“My driver was everywhere,” Stark said. “I shot mostly left, but then my irons weren’t very good and my wedges have been terrible all week.
“So I’m happy we managed to go below par to be honest.”
Andrea Lee poses with the trophy and her father James Lee after winning the 2022 AmazingCre Portland Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland, Oregon. (Photo: Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Lee broke down in tears during his post-round interview with Golf Channel as he dedicated the victory to his late grandfather, who died last November. She always called her champion.
“My grandfather loved golf,” Lee said. “I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to play more rounds of golf with him or just go to the range together, but we were close and he helped us a lot when we went through some tough times during junior golf. It’s a very expensive sport and he was a huge fan and he was my number one fan along with my mom and dad.”
She was also emotional over the loss of her dog, Toki, who died earlier this year and would have been 14 years old yesterday.
Lee melted even more in the arms of his father, who told him that he was proud.
“My dad is not a man of many words,” Lee said, “so it was a nice time to spend with him.”
His next big goal: Win a major.
The story originally appeared on GolfWeek