[PHOTO: Getty Images]
Min Woo Lee has won the Australian PGA Championship by three shots at Royal Queensland, his third title on the DP World Tour.
The 25-year-old began the final day in Brisbane with a three-shot lead and posted a 68 to finish at 20-under par and secure the Joe Kirkwood Cup. He defeated Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino (68) at 17-under par.
It was Lee’s third DP World Tour title after the 2020 co-sanctioned Vic Open and 2021 Scottish Open. Lee is projected to rise to a career-high of No.38 on the world ranking.
“Yeah, unbelievable,” Lee said afterwards. “I’ve always thought I could win, but it took a while to get over the hump. But two wins in the past month or so, I’m really proud of my team and myself. Rikuya is a really good player and he just kept knocking on the door, and I made it interesting early on and through the middle, but ended up hanging on, so I’m really proud.”
Lee’s three-shot overnight lead was gone after two holes when Hoshino began birdie-birdie as Lee made bogey-par. But only moments later, a near-ace at the par-3 fourth which was the first of three birdies in four holes. Lee then hit the shot of the tournament, a 50-metre hole-out for eagle at the par-5 ninth to make the back nine a formality.
“I think that was probably the best atmosphere shot I’ve ever hit,” Lee said of the hole-out. “I’ve had a few chip-ins, but at that point [the leaderboard] was getting close and I was in a pretty average position after the tee shot, so to chip that in was amazing. I want to see it straight away. I would like to see it. It was one of the best shots I’ve probably hit.”
After three birdies and a bogey in the middle of the home nine, Lee walked through the tunnel at the par-3 17th, the party hole, with a four-shot lead.
He missed the green left, but played a deft pitch shot and made the four-foot par putt. Lee overcooked his second into the back bunker at the par-4 18th and although he failed to save par, it didn’t dampen the victory.
Victorian Marc Leishman, whose seven-under 64 was the round of the day, birdied his last two holes to finish third with West Australian Curtis Luck in fourth. Luck played the back nine in four-under for a 69 and fourth spot.
LIV golfer Joaquin Niemann was fifth, and that was highlighted by a stunning ace at the par-3 fourth, holing his 8-iron tee shot from 164 metres.
Having won the recent Macau Open, Lee picked up another big cheque in Brisbane, this time for $333,330 for the Australian PGA.
Lee is also bound for the PGA Tour in 2024, having earned Special Temporary Membership in 2023 – courtesy of a T-6 at the Players Championship and a T-5 at the US Open – before securing enough non-member points to lock up status for 2024.
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