Rookie Song Ga-eun beats LPGA stars at Hana Championship

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Rookie Song Ga-eun beats LPGA stars at Hana Championship

Song Ga-eun celebrates winning her first-ever KLPGA trophy at the Hana Financial Group Championship on Sunday at Pocheon Adonis Country Club in Pocheon, Gyeonggi. [KLPGA]

Song Ga-eun celebrates winning her first-ever KLPGA trophy at the Hana Financial Group Championship on Sunday at Pocheon Adonis Country Club in Pocheon, Gyeonggi. [KLPGA]

 
Song Ga-eun won her first ever KLPGA title at the Hana Financial Group Championship on Sunday at Pocheon Adonis Country Club in Pocheon, Gyeonggi after a sudden-death playoff against Minjee Lee of Australia that was prolonged to three additional holes.
 
World No. 7 Lee is an LPGA golfer who has been on the Tour since 2015. The 25-year-old has a total of seven LPGA titles to her name, winning one title each in 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021. Lee entered the Hana Championship as the highest-ranked golfer on the course, alongside world No. 9 Lydia Ko of New Zealand.  
 
But it was neither the world No. 7 or No. 9 that got to take home the trophy on Sunday, as KLPGA rookie Song emerged victorious after three additional holes in a playoff against Lee. Ko finished tied for fifth.
 
Minjee Lee of Australia tees off at the Hana Financial Group Championship on Sunday at Pocheon Adonis Country Club in Pocheon, Gyeonggi. [KLPGA]

Minjee Lee of Australia tees off at the Hana Financial Group Championship on Sunday at Pocheon Adonis Country Club in Pocheon, Gyeonggi. [KLPGA]

Lydia Ko of New Zealand tees off at the Hana Financial Group Championship on Sunday at Pocheon Adonis Country Club in Pocheon, Gyeonggi. [KLPGA]

Lydia Ko of New Zealand tees off at the Hana Financial Group Championship on Sunday at Pocheon Adonis Country Club in Pocheon, Gyeonggi. [KLPGA]

 
Song came into the fourth and last round tied for second, one stroke short of Lee. 
 
Lee birdied the par-3 third and Song followed with two birdies on the par-4 fifth and par-3 seventh, showing off her good form. However, Lee was able to sink spectacular long putts on the par-4 10th and par-4 11th, for two consecutive birdies. 
 
With Song bogeying the par-4 13th, it seemed that Lee was running away with a three-stroke lead. However, Song kept close behind with a birdie in par-4 13th and another on the par-4 18th, pushing the match into a sudden-death playoff.
 
Minjee Lee checks the wind at the Hana Financial Group Championship on Sunday at Pocheon Adonis Country Club in Pocheon, Gyeonggi. [KLPGA]

Minjee Lee checks the wind at the Hana Financial Group Championship on Sunday at Pocheon Adonis Country Club in Pocheon, Gyeonggi. [KLPGA]

 
The two headed back to the teeing ground on the 18th hole for the sudden death playoff, but it was a neck-and-neck situation with both players parring the hole twice. The third time did the trick for Song, as her last iron shot landed right next to the pin. Lee’s iron shot landed slightly right, which led to a par, while Song birdied the hole to take her first ever KLPGA trophy.
 
This is the first time this season that a rookie player has topped the leaderboard on the KLPGA. Song has finished fifth three times this season at the Nexen Saint Nine Masters 2021 in April, the Jeju Samdasoo Masters in July and the Hanwha Classic 2021 in August.
 
“This victory brings me one step closer to my goal of the season, the Rookie of the Year award,” said Song. “But I still have a lot more to learn and to achieve. I am going to work hard to be a player that can grow.”

BY YUN SO-HYANG [yun.sohyang@joongang.co.kr]
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