Former world amateur number one Andrea Lee reeled off eight birdies in a 12-hole stretch on Sunday to win the Portland Classic and capture her first career LPGA title.
The 24-year-old American fired a six-under par 66 to finish 72 holes on 19-under 269 at Columbia Edgewater in Portland, Oregon.
“It’s more than I could imagine,” Lee said after her breakthrough triumph. “I can’t believe it. I’m speechless.”
Her charge was good enough for a one-stroke victory over Ecuador’s Daniela Darquea, who closed with three consecutive birdies to shoot 66 and finish on 270.
A third-place pack on 271 included South Korea’s An Na-rin, Australia’s Hannah Green, Japan’s Ayaka Furue, Germany’s Esther Henseleit and American Lilia Vu.
Lee had lost her LPGA playing rights last year but battled back with top play, sponsor exemptions and a developmental tour victory in April to reclaim her spot.
On Sunday, she made the most of her second chance.
“I just can’t believe I’m standing here after what I went through last year and the beginning of this year,” Lee said. “I’m still in shock right now.”
Lee shared the 54-hole lead but stumbled with birdies at the second and third holes, only to birdie three in a row starting at the par-5 fifth.
“I just told myself to stay really patient because I still had a lot of golf left,” Lee said.
Lee began the back nine with a birdie at the par-5 10th and then run off three birdies in a row starting at the par-5 12th.
She added a birdie at the par-3 16th and closed with two clutch pars to hold off Darquea’s late charge.
“I just kept going on the back and I made five birdies,” Lee said. “It was nice to keep going that way. I still can’t believe that.”
Lee dedicated the victory to her grandfather, who died last November.
“He always believed in me and believed I was a champion,” she said. “And today I am one.”
Furue and Vu, who each fired 68, had shared the 54-hole lead with Lee.
Furue had won her first LPGA title in July at the Scottish Open after winning seven Japan Tour crowns.
Vu, also a former world amateur number one, missed out in her bid for her first LPGA title.