Australia’s Minjee Lee captured the OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic with a clutch birdie putt from 20ft at the first extra hole to beat France’s Celine Boutier in a thrilling shoot-out under the Middle Eastern moonlight.
Following in the footsteps of previous champions including Annika Sorenstam, Lexi Thompson and Shanshan Feng, Lee came into the week as the highest ranked star and left on top of the 56-player field, collecting the €36,266 winner’s prize fund and the iconic ‘coffee pot inspired’ trophy.
“I couldn’t really see the break too well on the last hole, but I thought it would be about two cups outside the right and luckily I hit it hard enough and it dropped. It feels pretty special to be here playing at night-time and the course has been amazing It’s been a really fun week.”
Tied at the top of the leaderboard in regulation at ten-under-par, just one shot ahead of overnight leader Caroline Hedwall, defending champion Nuria Iturrioz and Germany’s Laura Fuenfstueck, the pair could not be separated after Minjee posted a consistent round of 69 (-3) to Boutier’s 68 (-4).
“I didn’t really see the scores until I had a couple of holes left and then I ended up making a bogey on the 15th so I stopped looking. Then my caddie told me what the score was on the last hole and I realised I was tied and had a chance of winning.”
Boutier, who was flawless for most of the day, held the lead for most of the final round but faltered with a costly bogey on the 16th to open the door for Minjee to tie the lead with two to play with a birdie. Going right to the wire, Hedwall and Iturrioz both had putts to force their way into the playoff, but it wasn’t to be, as Lee and Boutier headed for sudden death.
Both former world No. 1 amateurs put it in play from the tee on the tricky 18th hole, which only yielded five birdies in regulation on the final day, but Minjee found the green just inside 20ft compared to Boutier’s 30+ft effort.
Expecting a brace of two-putts, onlooking players might be forgiven for expecting another trip down the last, but Minjee had other ideas – rolling home to claim her eighth professional title in spectacular fashion underneath the Dubai skyline.
Tracking all the way, the 24-year-old let out a rare sight of emotion with a fist pump and a smile from ear-to-ear.
“This year has been tough but this is a nice way to close it out. I’ve really enjoyed the format and everything about the week, my second tie playing night golf was certainly memorable.”
Aside from the top of the leaderboard, Scotland’s Kylie Henry had a day to remember, firing a course-record round of 63 to catapult herself from three-over-par to six-under-par and into the top ten.
Speaking about the round, Walker said, “It’s my lowest stroke play round and It felt great. I hit it solid all round and was hitting it fairly close on most holes. The main highlight was the par 3 8th when I hit it to a foot with my 8 iron.”
She continued, “I’m just so delighted to be playing tournaments. I’m so grateful to everybody at the Tour who is working doubly hard and all our sponsors who’ve got us back up and running through this pandemic. It’s made us all remember how much we love the game and we’re really appreciating the opportunity to be out here competing for a living.”
As a result of Lee being a non-member, Boutier collected the most Race to Costa del Sol points (90) to move her to 11th place from 49th while Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen kept her commanding lead at the top.
Check out the full rankings – https://ladieseuropeantour.com/costa-del-sol-order-of-merit/