Dylan Buell

Minjee Lee lost a five-shot lead in a six-hole span late on Sunday but recovered by making birdie on the second playoff hole to top Charley Hull to win the Kroger Queen City Championship. It’s Lee’s ninth victory but first this year. She shot one-under 71 to end at 16-under-par total. Hull, winner of two LPGA events, shot 69.

Minjee Lee (-16) won on second playoff hole
Charley Hull (-16)
Ruoning Yin (-14)
Ally Ewing (-12)

“I feel like I really deserve this one. I feel like it’s been a little bit of a long time coming after the US Open, and like the past few weeks I’ve been really close,” Lee said.

What it means
Minjee Lee had the best season of her career in 2022, winning twice — including the US Women’s Open — and reaching No. 2 in the world. But then the months started to tick by, and suddenly Lee hadn’t won in 15 months. “I think it’s always really hard to back up an amazing year with another really amazing year. You have high expectations, and I think managing that is probably the hardest thing because you know you’ve been there, so it’s like, Oh, why can’t I do that every week. But obviously you can’t because you’re human,” Lee said on Saturday. Coming to terms with how difficult it is to win seemed to be the key to unlocking yet another win for the Aussie. Her victory in Ohio is her first of 2023, and the ninth of her LPGA career.

How it happened
As Minjee Lee and Charley Hull stood on the 11th tee box of Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, Lee appeared to be in control of the situation: She held a five-shot lead over Hull. But what happened over the next seven holes reminded us that being in control in one moment on the golf course means close to nothing. A double-bogey by Lee at the 12th followed by Hull’s three birdies in a row at 14, 15 and 16 brought the two level at 16-under. With both players parring the final two holes, they were sent back to the 18th tee for a sudden-death playoff.
On the first playoff hole, it looked like heroics from Hull’s putter would win it. After taking a drop from the grandstand beyond the green, Hull nearly holed an enormous putt from off the green:
Instead, Lee and Hull halved with pars and went to the 18th tee yet again. This time, Hull hit the green but Lee hit it closer. When Hull missed her birdie chance, Lee knocked in her two-footer for birdie and her ninth LPGA victory.

Best of the rest
Ruoning Yin finished solo third, marking the third tournament in a row where the 20-year-old finished in the top three. She is projected to become the new World No. 1, claiming the spot from Lilia Vu. This is Yin’s second year on tour. She won her first major earlier this year, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where she became the second player from China to win a major. She also won the DIO Implant LA Open.

Biggest frustration
Charley Hull has played fantastic golf this season, but she’s leaving yet another LPGA event as the runner-up. This is the fourth time this year that Hull has finished runner-up, including twice in majors. Knocking on the door of a victory is better than finishing farther down the leaderboard, but at a certain it’s more about taking the trophy home.