Lexi’s best finish this year! A new No. 1! But then came Sunday’s best shot
Minjee Lee hit Sunday’s best shot, and she won the LPGA’s Kroger Queen City Championship in a playoff. If you’re coming here for the elevator-ride wrap-up, there you go. But you should stay a while! There was so much more going on Sunday at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati.
Like Lexi Thompson! GOLF’s Alan Bastable documented it well here, but one of golf’s most popular players has struggled this year. She’s missed five-straight cuts. She’s in jeopardy of losing her full playing privileges for 2024. Sunday? She finished tied for 19th, her best finish since … last November.
Like Ruoning Yin! This is something. Last April, she was floating around 450th in the world. Then? In March, she won the LA Open. In June, she won a major, the Women’s PGA. And on Monday, she’ll wake up as the new world No. 1. She’s also just 20 years old.
Like Charley Hull! She’s been on your TV often this year. We won’t soon forget that “shy kids don’t get sweets” line from the U.S. Open, where she ignored laying up from under the tree in the middle of Pebble Beach’s iconic 18th hole and blasted one ahead in hopes of a win. She finished runner-up there. She finished second at the Women’s Open. She hit Sunday’s second-best shot. More on that below.
Like Lee’s shot that she airmailed out of bounds on the par-5 12th while holding a four-shot lead!
Really! OK, it was ugly. But the response wasn’t. Having led by five after 10 holes, she grimaced for a sec on 12. Briefly, she lowered her head. Then she was handed a new ball, made double bogey and marched to 13. Notably, Hull, her closest pursuer entering the hole, had bogeyed after hitting into water, and Lee led by three.
Then the lead was two, when Hull dropped her tee shot on the par-3 14th to 8 feet and dropped the putt. But Lee marched ahead.
Then the lead was one, when Hull curled in a 10-footer on the par-5 15th. But Lee marched on.
Then the lead was none, when Hull rolled in a 15-footer on the par-4 16th. It was her third-straight birdie. But yes, Lee marched on. They remained knotted, and Lee and Hull moved to a playoff.
Where we got the second-best shot of the day!
Back on the par-4 18th, Hull sent her second shot over the green and up against tent seating. She dropped. From about 60 feet away, she chose putter. Notably, a few feet in front of her was a brownish patch of dirt that had been placed to cover up a power line. It didn’t matter. She putted to an inch.
But yes, Lee marched on. She parred to match Hull. They went back to 18 for a second playoff hole.
Where we got the shot of the day!
From the tee, Lee found the left rough. It was buried. It didn’t matter. She worked an iron to about 30 yards short of the green, her ball took a few skips, and it rolled to 2 feet. But you know our whole ‘marching on’ theme? She did that here, too. Played it cool. On the green, Hull missed her birdie attempt, Lee didn’t, and she was your winner. She’s already among the game’s elite — this was her ninth LPGA win, two of them being majors — and this effort was a gritty one.
On Golf Channel afterward, to on-course reporter Kay Cockerill, Lee added this:
“I think I had a few moments where I was like, I really felt like I was losing, but I wasn’t. The score was we were pretty much tied.
“But I was just like, let’s just play until the end and see where it ends up. So I just didn’t give up. I just played every shot to the best I could and then, you know, won the playoff, so it feels nice.”