Lee So-mi wins opening tournament of 2021 KLPGA Tour
Lee So-mi won the Lotte Rent-a-Car Ladies Open at Lotte Skyhill Country Club on Jeju Island on Sunday, picking up the trophy at the first tournament of the 2021 KLPGA Tour.
By shooting even-par on the final day, Lee finished the tournament two shots ahead of the field at 282.
Jang Ha-na finished second, shooting one-under-par on the final round, 71, to finish with an overall score of 284. Jeong Seul-Gi came in third, also scoring one-under-par on the final round for an overall score of 287.
Golf courses on Jeju Island are known for being difficult due to strong winds and hard greens. Only the top three were able to score below 288 to go under-par for the entire tournament.
Starting the final round two shots ahead of tied runners-up Jang and Lee Da-yeon at six-under-par, Lee didn’t get off to the best start in the final round as she shot a bogey on the par-3 third, while Jang and Lee shot birdies, allowing them to briefly catch up.
“Actually, I was so concentrated on the wind and myself that I was unaware that Jang and Lee had shot birdies while I shot a bogey,” Lee So-mi said.
Lee took a sole lead again with two birdies — an iron shot that landed just a meter (3.28 feet) away from the hole on the par-4 sixth and a seven-meter birdie putt on the par-4 seventh.
Jang was fighting Lee until the 16th hole, when a double bogey to Lee's par saw her fall back three shots. Lee hit a bogey on the par-3 17th but saved it with a par on the 18th to hold on to a two shot lead.
“Last winter training, I started extra early with my coach because it was my first time training in Korea during the winter," Lee said. "We focused on mind control and changing the way I think during the game.
“Today, I tried to play as I had practiced, to only think about my game and not worry about how others performed. I think that is how I won today.”
Lee took 126 million won ($112,000) in prize money.
Lee's second career win on the KLPGA Tour came just six months after her first. Last October, Lee won the 2020 Huencare Ladies Open at South Links Yeongam, in Yeongam, South Jeolla.
This year, she's started things quickly, winning the first event of the new season.
Despite the postponement of the 2020 KLPGA Tour season due to the coronavirus, the 2021 KLPGA Tour started smoothly, though the gallery was kept empty.
A total of 120 golfers started the tournament vying for the total prize pot of 700 million won. The field was cut down to the top 66 players after the first two rounds.
Defending champion Cho A-yean, winner of the 2019 tournament, finished tied for fifth at one-over-par, 289.
The KLPGA Tour will continue its season with the Nexen Saint Nine Masters 2021 at Gaya Country Club in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang from April 22 to 25.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]