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Korean Rookie Wins Jeju LPGA Tourney

Posted October. 31, 2005 03:01,   


Lee Jee-young (20, Himart), the LPGA’s “smiling queen,” was the last player smiling on October 30.

Lee’s face was filled with happiness as if she had won the whole world after making a putt to seal her victory on the 18th hole of the final round of the LPGA CJ Nine Bridge Classic (purse: $1.35 million) played at the Jeju Club Nine Bridge (par 72) today.

Debuting this year as a pro, super rookie Lee, the winner of the Women’s Korean Open, won the tournament with a 5-under 211, beating Kim Mi-hyun (KTF) and Swede Karin Koch, who both hit a 2-under 214, by three strokes.

Holding the championship trophy of her very first LPGA tournament, Lee said, “This will be a day that I won’t forget, and I am so happy. It is so exciting thinking that I will be playing in the U.S.”

With this win, Lee hit the jackpot in a tournament in which the world’s best players, including Swede Annika Sorenstam, played, and in which she led for all three rounds. She will receive $202,500 as prize money, at least 100 million won in bonus money from her supporting sponsor, Himart, and other bonuses to be announced.

What is more important than money however, is that she will be heading straight into her dream-league, the U.S. LPGA. She received a conditional number one seed for her win, and will be allowed to play in all LPGA tournaments, and in 2007 she will be guaranteed with a full seed.

She is following in the same steps of another Cinderella story, the one of Ahn Shi-hyun (Kolon Elord) who won a ticket to the U.S. by winning this same tournament in 2003.

In addition, Lee also gained an automatic entry into the LPGA Tour Tournament of Champions, to be played in Mobile, Alabama starting on November 11.

Sorenstam finished the game tied for 14th place with 4-over 220, and last year’s defending champion Grace Park (Nike Golf) tied for sixth place with an even-par 216.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com