CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Six is certainly a magic number for US Women’s Open champion Jeongeun Lee6.
This is kind of really interesting how I finished 6 under at an LPGA tournament
The 23-year-old South Korean won her first major title Sunday, the first $1 million women’s winner’s check ever handed out by the USGA and her first victory as an LPGA Tour rookie.
And she did by shooting 1-under 70 at Country Club of Charleston to finish at, naturally, 6-under 278.
“This is kind of really interesting how I finished 6 under at an LPGA tournament,” Lee6 said through an interpreter. “So, this is really lucky number to me.”
Lee6 has the number in her name because she was the sixth player with the name on the Korean LPGA. She has embraced the number, answering to it and writing a large “6’’ on her balls. Her South Korean fan club is called “Lucky 6.”
Jeongeun Lee5 tied for 34th at 4 over, 10 shots behind Lee6.
Lee6 opened a three-shot lead with three holes to play before facing some nerves with bogeys on the 16th and 18th holes to tighten things up. But when third-round co-leader Celine Boutier’s blast from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole rolled off the green, Lee6 had the biggest win of her life.
“I didn’t even expect to win the tournament this fast,” Lee6 said. “I think this is very lucky that I won this major championship tournament.”
Lee6, playing two groups ahead of Boutier, was practicing putts when the Frenchwoman could not make the sand shot. Lee6 bent down in joy when her victory was secure, countrywoman and 2011 US Women’s Open winner So Yeon Ryu coming over to embrace the new champion.
“I felt pretty nervous starting on the holes 16, 17 and 18 after opening the large lead,” Lee6 said. “But I tried the best that I can.”
The victory came a few days after Tiger Woods’ former swing coach, Hank Haney, made disparaging remarks about women’s golf by predicting a “Korean” would win and “I would go with Lee.”
Haney was suspended for his comments on his PGA Tour SiriusXM radio show when asked who would win. “I would go with Lee,” Haney said.
“If I didn’t have to name a first name, I would get a bunch of them right.” Haney was suspended for his remarks.”
Haney sent tweets on Sunday night congratulating Lee6 and saying his prediction was based on statistics and facts.
“Korean women are absolutely dominating the LPGA Tour. If you asked me again, my answer would be the same but worded more carefully.”
Lee6 said her focus had been fully on the tournament because she hasn’t mastered English.
“I didn’t really understand him that much, so I didn’t really think about it,” she said.
Boutier made a double bogey on the final hole to fall into a tie for fifth at 3 under. She shot 75. Lexi Thompson, Ryu and Angel Yin tied for second, two shots behind. Thompson shot 73, Ryu 70 and Yin 68.