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Korean Mirim Lee Clinches vitory in nail-biting finish in Beijing
Tour rookie Mirim Lee from the Republic of Korea won the second tournament of her LPGA career in dramatic style today after a nail-biting finish with Sweden's Caroline Hedwall and American Stacy Lewis on the Nicklaus Course at the Pine Valley Golf Club in Beijing today.
The 23 year old shot four under par, finishing with a birdie on the 18th hole in Round Four leaving her two shots clear of joint overnight leader Caroline Hedwall. She picked up three birdies on the front nine and a further two on the back, with a single bogey on the par five 12th hole.
Under clear blue skies and a blustery wind, the Swede was unable to match her form of the previous day, scoring an even par 73 including two birdies and two bogeys.
It remained a three horse race together with Stacy Lewis right up until the 17th hole but when Lee landed on the rocks short of the green, everybody thought it was all over for the Korean. But a superb rescue followed by a sublime 40ft putt saw her make par. Meanwhile Lewis, who was so strong throughout the tournament, bogeyed to write herself out of contention for the top prize.
Round Four had been billed as a Europe versus U.S. Ryder Cup style showdown but with an uncharacteristic two over par from the World No. 1, including two birdies and four bogeys, it wasn't to be, with the American finishing tied in sixth place and four shots off the lead at 11 under par.
Commenting on her victory, together with winners cheque for US$ 315,000, Lee said, "I really didn't think I would get my second win this quickly. I was a lot more nervous this time than first time around.
I think I made a few mistakes towards the end, especially on the 18th. I'm really happy I won the tournament - it was good. Obviously China is very close to my home. I won this tournament, so I think China and myself are a pretty good fit."
Asked whether this would be the icing on the cake of her rookie year, she added, "It is now. But as you know, we've got seven more tournaments to go. So I don't want to say it's over yet. It's ongoing."
A philosophical Hedwall added, "Of course you're always a little disappointed that you couldn't pull it off and win. At the same time, the up and down she made on 17 was just incredible. So, I mean, I'm still happy with the second place. I struggled this season, so it's nice to get a good finish. It gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the Asian swing."
Tied in third place at 12 under par were Koreans Inbee Park and Haeji Kang together with American Brittany Lang, with fellow Korean Mi Hyang Lee one shot further back alongside Stacy Lewis.
As the host of the 2014 Reignwood LPGA Classic, Galba Zheng, President of Reignwood Pine Valley said, "We extend our congratulations to Mirim Lee on a wonderful performance and well deserved victory.
She has played with great skill and considerable maturity throughout the tournament and I am sure that we will see her go on to achieve great success in the game in future. Her name will live on at Pine Valley Golf Club alongside Shanshan Feng's for many years to come and we look forward to welcoming her back next year."
On behalf of tournament organiser, Grant Slack, Senior Vice-President IMG Golf Asia-Pacific, added, "The second edition of the Reignwood LPGA Classic has been a great success and has consolidated this tournament's position as one of the preeminent ladies golf tournaments in Asia. Congratulations to Mirim Lee on a fantastic victory and for providing the spectators with such a grandstand finish. I would like to thank the Reignwood Group for their loyal support with this tournament and we look forward to returning in 2015."
Among the Chinese, it was 31 year old Yanhong Pan from neighbouring Hebei who finished best placed Chinese player in 14th place at seven under par. Defending champion Shanshan Feng wasn't able to make it back to back tournament wins all the fans so wanted.
The World No. 9 failed to make par on three out of four rounds, recording scores of 75, 71, 74 and 75 to end the tournament tied in 49th place.
Played on the Nicklaus Course at the Pine Valley Golf Club from 2 - 5 October 2014, the Reignwood LPGA Classic saw players compete for Asia's largest prize purse of US$ 2.1m in the 72-hole, no-cut tournament.