Korea’s Mi Hyang Lee came from nine shots off the lead at the halfway stage to win the £1.2 million Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Dundonald Links, where Australian Karrie Webb had one hand on the trophy until she had to play out backwards from a fairway bunker at the 17th and ran up a costly double bogey.
Webb, who was bidding to claim her 42nd LPGA title at the age of 42, had chipped in from 50 feet for an eagle three holes earlier to take a two-shot lead and was still in the driving seat with two holes to play despite taking a bogey at the 16th, where the former world No 1 was unable to convert a ten-foot par putt.
But, after being shocked to see her tee shot end up in a bunker on the left side of the fairway at the penultimate hole, Webb had no option but to come out backwards, found a greenside bunker with her third and walked to the 18th tee two shots behind Lee and needing an eagle to force a play-off. Earlier, world No 49 Lee had produced a brilliant up and down from the left of the 17th green to save par before then signing off with a birdie for a closing 66 and a six-under-par 282 total. The 24-year-old didn’t think that was going to be good enough, having thought she needed to hole her eagle putt from the front of the green at the last to have a chance of tying with Webb.
She was unaware, though, of what was happening behind and, after finding a bunker with her approach at the 515-yard 18th, the best Webb could do was a birdie, leaving her having to settle for a share of second spot with another Korean, Mi Jung Hur, on five under after four extremely testing days on the Ayrshire coast.
“I didn’t believe I was going to win today, so it is a surprise for me,” admitted Lee, who just made the cut by a shot after opening rounds of 73 and 75 and was still six off the lead, held by Webb and Sun Young Yoo, heading into the final circuit.
“When Karrie went to seven under, I thought she was going to win unless I made the eagle putt at the last.”
Lee’s third professional win and second on the LPGA – she made the breakthrough in the 2014 Mizuno Classic – came in a week that didn’t get off to the best of starts. “Actually, my golf clubs didn’t arrive here this week until Wednesday,” revealed the South Carolina-based player after picking up a cheque for £171,000 and also receiving a huge confidence boost heading into this week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns. “I rented clubs from the pro shop for the practice round on Tuesday and the first time I practised with my own clubs was Wednesday.
“In the first and second rounds, I hit it really good, but just I missed a lot of putts. So I tried to practise my putting in the wind. I made a lot of putts yesterday, so I took a lot of confidence from that into today. My front nine was amazing [she bagged six birdies in racing to the turn in 31], though my back nine was a little up-and-down. I made a lot of putts and also a good chip shot at the 17th.”
Webb, who was bidding to complete an Ayrshire double after winning the 2002 Women’s British Open at Turnberry, was unhappy about seeing her tee shot being punished at the 17th and also about the fact she didn’t know where she actually stood playing the 18th due to the fact there was no scoreboard on the hole.
“I absolutely nutted my 3-wood off the tee at the 17th and thought it was perfect but, as I was about to tell my caddie [Johnny Scott] that, he said it had kicked into the bunker and I had no idea how it did that,” she said after signing for a 73. “I’m gutted. I was on a high after making the eagle at the 14th and then I had a very nice up-and-down on the next. Obviously there were nerves there, but there was a good calmness.
“At the last, I had an in-between number unfortunately for my second shot. I would have liked to have just hit a hard 8-iron, but I couldn’t count on it carrying that front. But there was no leaderboard on the last, so I didn’t know I had to make that bunker shot. I just assumed when I made my putt that it wasn’t a huge cheer, so I assumed it wasn’t to tie. It’s pretty bad to not have a leaderboard on the last. That’s the first time I’ve been playing that there hasn’t been a leaderboard on 18.
“With my bunker shot, I said to Johnny, ‘I don’t know if I need to hole this or get it up-and-down’. Imagine if you went for it and overplayed it and you only had to get it up-and-down. I was trying to make it but also not being overly aggressive.”
Carly Booth closed with a 73 to finish as top Scot in joint 31st on five over, five shots ahead of Catriona Matthew (74) and 12 ahead of Sally Watson (79).