Australia’s Minjee Lee finally found the birdies when she needed them to win the LPGA Founders Cup by two strokes over Lexi Thompson in New Jersey on Sunday.
Lee, who took a one-shot lead into the final round, was frustrated early as putt after putt failed to drop. But she birdied three holes on the back nine on the way to a two-underßpar 70 and a 19-under par total of 269 at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton.
The world number five captured a seventh LPGA title and her first since landing her maiden major at the Evian Championship last year.
“At the end of the day, I got the job done, so I’m happy,” Lee said.
Thompson, whose 11 titles include one major, fired a three-under par 69 for 271.
Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, who started the day one stroke behind Lee, saw her title hopes dim with a triple-bogey at the third, where her approach was plugged in a bunker and she needed three shots to get out of the trap.
She nabbed three birdies on the back nine to finish with an even par 72, tied with American Angel Yin (67) for third on 272.
With Sagstrom’s early fade, Thompson and Yin were the ones pushing Lee as the Aussie opened her round with seven straight pars – a run that included such disappointments as a three-foot birdie lip-out at the fourth.
Lee bogeyed the eighth, but reasserted herself with birdies at the par-five 12th and 14th.
Thompson, who birdied the second, 10th and 12th, couldn’t take advantage of the par-five 14th, and they arrived at the 72nd hole with Lee nursing a one-shot lead.
She hit her approach less than five feet from the pin to cap her victory with another birdie.
“I wasn’t really nervous,” Lee said of her unspectacular start, which opened the door to Thompson and Yin.
“Obviously I wasn’t striking it as well as I wanted to. But I still drove it well and putted really well — so I’m going to take the positives.”