It was the championship for anyone who goes to the final round of the AmazingCre Portland Classic and stayed that way all day at Columbia Edgewater Country Club. With so many lead changes and countless elite players making their way to the top of the leaderboard on Sunday, a clear champion isn’t established until the final kicks. That champ is Andrea Lee, who finished the race in -19 and took the first win of her career on the LPGA Tour.
“All the hard work paid off. It was my dream to win the LPGA Tour, and the fact that I accomplished that day is just so surreal,” said the first-time winner. “Some of the past champions (in the Portland Classic) are legends of the game… I am very honored to be joining this list of names.”
Lee started the day at -13 and in the leading group alongside fellow Epson Tour graduate Lilia Fu and first-time winner Ayaka Furio in 2022. She made a rough start with two stealths in her first three holes but flipped it shortly after with the sparrows In the fifth, sixth and seventh holes. The American Barrage Bird continued with five aft nine and took advantage of four Columbia Edgewater par-5s throughout the tour, birdieing each one.
Lee had a two-stroke lead at -19 in the last two holes, but struggled in turn 4 17 after her ball landed in a hole in the fairway.
“Obviously it was a bad break, but you can’t do anything about it. I was kind of between clubs. I was debating whether I should hit a full 7 iron or a 6 iron throttle, and I went with the 6 throttle and tightened it up a bit.” He explained to me. “I held it pretty clean. I think if I aimed it more right it would be on the green. He just dragged her and went into the basement. I just had to keep my cool and try to make it go up and down. Hit her about a foot away until that definitely helped her calm down. nerves.”
Lee’s stunning sand rescue allowed her to maintain the two-stroke lead on the last hole. Ecuadorean Daniela Darkia, who played on one team, pressed Lee with an 18th birdie to hit -18. But Lee said she kept calm and avoided focusing on the leaderboard and ended up with a routine reward that made her an LPGA Champion.
Looking at Lee’s final stats, it’s easy to see how she became a champion. The Stanford University graduate has led the field in birds and hit the greenest and greenest of trails in regulation. She said her game was the best ever, but it was a long journey to get to this point.
“My junior career and amateur career has always been a bit of a smooth sailing, I would say. I kind of expected a lot from coming to the LPGA and turning professional. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do the same,” Lee, who is associated with the title of best golfer in Stanford history, said. Really good job.” “That wasn’t the case at all. 2020 was a decent year, but then 2021 was a struggle…I just learned from all of those experiences last year, and I’ve really grown as a golfer and really proud of the way I was able to use all of that experience to get that win today. “
Darquea finished second which is her best on the LPGA Tour. Her best was a tie for 5th place in the 2018 Dana Open presented by Marathon. The 27-year-old has lost her full spot on the LPGA Tour coming into 2022 but has used her Epson Tour membership to help improve her game and build her confidence in the five LPGA events she has played this season. In fact, Darquea has been debating whether to play in Portland this week or play on the Epson Tour. She said she made the right decision.
“It was tough at the start of the year, losing the ticket, back to Epson,” said Darkya, who shot seven birds and a ghost on Sunday to win second. “I know I have the match to be here. I just need to keep the mental game the way it is.”
Five players share third place, including third-round leader Furue and Vu, 2019 Portland Classic champ Hannah Green, German golfer Esther Hinslet and Korea’s Naren Ann. The stealth-free 64 allowed her to jump off the leaderboard from T14 to T3. She was surpassed only by Bianca Pagdanganan in her -8 round which was a 9-under 63 best result of 18 holes of the week at Columbia Edgewater. In her first LPGA Tour membership appearance, Maja Stark finished eighth in the final round with six less which put her ahead early after five consecutive birdies in holes 4-8.