• ‘Guesstimate’ guides Minjee to ninth LPGA Tour win

It was the title-winning approach at the second playoff hole that, to those watching, was the perfect combination of imagination and execution.

Minjee Lee conceded that it also took a bit of guesswork.

After watching a five-stroke lead evaporate under a back-nine charge by England’s Charley Hull, Lee had to first hole a clutch par putt from five feet to send the Kroger Queen City LPGA Championship to extra holes.

Hull very nearly holed an improbable birdie putt from beside the grandstands at the back of the green at the first playoff hole at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Lee two-putting for a matching par and a second additional trip down 18.

Lee and Hull both found the left rough with their tee shots and after Hull played her approach to just outside 10 feet to the right of the hole, Lee went to work.

Given the firmness of the fairway and the putting surface, the 27-year-old played a pitching wedge from 145 metres that skipped up, rolled out and came to rest just two feet from the hole.

“I had like 145 meters to the pin, but you have to land it like 25 yards short of the green because I was also coming out of the rough,” Lee explained in her winner’s press conference.

“You can't really predict how far it's going to run so it was just a guesstimate.

“I just was like, Oh, it's probably going to run this much, so I just need to put it on a good line and it'll probably just roll up there.

“It was just really trusting that it was going to come out the way I thought it was going to come out and that it was going to roll all the way to the pin.”

Leading by two entering the final round, Lee extended her advantage with birdies at the second, seventh and eighth holes.

Her two at the par-3 eighth put her four strokes clear, a lead that would balloon to five with just eight holes to play.

A double-bogey at the par-5 12th gave Hull a sliver of hope, hope that she converted into a share of the lead with three straight birdies from the 14th hole.

Lee was unable to find the final birdie she needed to separate herself again but stayed in the fight long enough to earn a fifth career playoff appearance.

“After that putt (at the 72nd hole) I just told myself, Let's go and win this one,” said Lee, who lost a playoff to Jin Young Ko at the Cognizant Founders Cup earlier in the season and is now 2-3 in playoffs in her career.

“Obviously at Founders with Jin Young, that playoff didn't go my way so this one I really wanted to make it go my way.”

Winless since the US Women’s Open last June, Lee has fallen from No.2 in the world to No.13 at the start of this week.

She had just two prior top-10 finishes this season but kept faith in the work she and coach Ritchie Smith have been doing to return to her winning ways.

“I worked really hard for this one and worked really hard in my game, so I know I deserve this one,” said Lee, who was doused in champagne by fellow Aussie Grace Kim moments after the winning putt.

“Not that I don't deserve the other ones, too, but just feels a little more rewarding to know that all the hard work you put in has kind of paid off.”

Kroger Queen City Championship
1             Minjee Lee                         67-69-65-71—272            $US300,000
T36        Gabriela Ruffels                69-69-74-72—284            $11,262
T41        Stephanie Kyriacou          71-72-73-69—285            $8,681
T41        Lydia Ko (NZ)                     68-73-72-72—285            $8,681
T55        Sarah Kemp                       72-71-73-71—287            $5,571
MC         Grace Kim                           71-75—146
MC         Karis Davidson                   77-71—148
MC         Su Oh                                  76-75—151

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