M. Lee wins first LPGA event at Kingsmill on Monday


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Minjee Lee didn't expect her rookie season on the LPGA to include a victory. Now that she has proved herself wrong by winning the Kingsmill Championship, she's thinking she can do it again.

The 18-year-old Australian, who turned professional in September, shook off a three-putt bogey on her first hole Monday morning and finished with two pars for a 6-under 65 and 15-under 269 total.

It was her first title as a professional. She became the seventh LPGA player to win before her 19th birthday.

''I didn't think this moment would come this year, so I'm stoked to have won,'' she said after signing autographs behind the 18th green while waiting to see if her lead would hold up. ''Just because I won in my rookie season, I feel like I could probably do it again. It just kind of gives me confidence that I can play out here and win out here.''

Lee surged into the lead Sunday with a round highlighted by a five-hole stretch that she played in 5 under before darkness halted play. She returned to the Kingsmill Resort's River Course early Monday with a four-stroke lead.

Having marked her ball about 15 feet from the hole Sunday night on the par-4 16th, she knocked her first putt about 4 feet past the hole, then missed the comebacker, but said she didn't let the bogey bother her.

Her goal for the last 2 1/2 holes was ''to make pars,'' she said, and she managed to do that at Nos. 17 and 18.

She became the third rookie to win this year and earned $195,000. Her earnings were $114,651 coming in.

So Yeon Ryu started her day with three consecutive birdies and finished second, with Alison Lee another shot back.

''Sometimes early morning my body is still not awake, but this morning my body condition was even better than yesterday,'' Ryu said. ''So I pretty much made every shot and every putt. So, yeah, perfect this morning.''

Alison Lee, who started on the par-5 15th, made birdie after Minjee Lee's bogey, trimming her deficit from four strokes to two. But her approaches to Nos. 16 and 17 left her long putts, neither of which fell, and she made bogey at No. 18.

''On 16 and 17, I felt like I hit two good putts, but they didn't go in,'' the 20-year-old student at UCLA said. ''And on 18, I just kind of gave up on myself and I shouldn't have done that. I should have finished strong.''

Both Lees were to play in a U.S. Open qualifier near Richmond on Monday. Minjee Lee qualified with her victory, but Alison Lee forfeited her spot and planned to try to get into a qualifier Tuesday in California.

Perrine Delacour of France, the leader entering the final round, closed with a 71 and finished fourth. Top-ranked Lydia Ko tied for 16th at 5 under.