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Min Woo Lee played one of the best shots of his life and then donned a chef’s hat to play crowd-pleaser in a career highlight Australian PGA Championship win.
A bogey on the last dropped him to 20-under for the tournament, but the West Australian’s fourth career win had been all but sealed by a brilliant chip-in from 50 metres for eagle on the ninth on Sunday.
That put four shots between him and nearest rival Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino (67, 68, 64, 68), who ended up three behind in second place at 17-under.
A bogey on the 10th was a rare blip, with Lee (64, 66, 66, 68) again chipping within a metre of the 12th to reinstate the buffer and cap a dominant week at Brisbane’s Royal Queensland.
There were certainly no signs of nerves after he got up-and-down for par on the 17th.
Lee donned a chef’s hat in a nod to his ‘Let Him Cook’ motto, leading a clap with the crowd then running to the 18th tee to drill his tee shot down the middle of the fairway.
He found a greenside bunker and missed the putt to drop a shot and finish two short of the tournament record of 22-under set by Jed Morgan early last year.
Lee was 12 under on the par fives across the tournament in marching to his second title in his past four starts following a wire-to-wire Macau Open victory.
“It’s No.1 for sure. Scottish (Open) was big, Vic Open’s big but right now this is the top in front of Australia, my family,” he said referencing his previous main triumphs.
“It was special. I’ve been waiting for so long to play really well in Australia.
“I knew it was coming, it was just a ‘when’ question.”
Marc Leishman (16 under) carded a seven-under 64 on Sunday to surge into third ahead of Curtis Luck (15 under).
Adam Scott (12 under) stood still after he’d cruised into title contention at the tournament’s midway point, finishing sixth to continue his near four-year title drought.
The 25-year-old Lee had barely put a foot wrong across three days of golf at the riverside venue, seemingly not hitting top gear until he needed some magic on Sunday.
Going right with his first shot on the par five ninth, Lee squeezed a shot under some trees and remained right of the large green.
His chip bounced three times and checked, curling into the cup to send the large gallery and those gathered around the ninth green wild for the charismatic rising star.
Lee, younger brother of three-time Greg Norman Medallist Minjee, celebrated too, rating it “probably one of the best shots I’ve hit”.
“That was probably the best atmosphere shot I’ve ever hit … one of the best shots of my life,” he said.
“I probably haven’t screamed louder than that ever.
“That was definitely the turning point and I felt really good about it.”
Defending champion Cameron Smith crashed out after two forgettable rounds and spent the weekend working on his putting over the weekend ahead of the Australian Open, which begins in Sydney on Thursday.
Chile’s Joaquin Niemann (13 under) landed an ace on the fourth hole just after Hoshino had erased Lee’s overnight lead of three shots in a manic opening 30 minutes of play.
But Lee steadied, almost holing an ace of his own on that same hole to quickly reinstate some breathing space.