Minjee Lee of Australia made three birdies on the back nine to hold off Lexi Thompson and win the Cognizant Founders Cup on Sunday at Clifton, N.J.
Lee was 1 over through 11 holes before birdies at Nos. 12, 14 and 18 on the Upper Montclair Country Club course to shoot a 2-under 70 and finish at 19-under 269. It was enough for her seventh win on the LPGA Tour and her first since she won the 2021 Evian Championship last July, her first major title.
“I wasn’t really that nervous, but obviously I wasn’t striking it as well as I wanted to,” Lee said on the Golf Channel broadcast. “You know, I still drove it and putted really well, so got to take the positives.”
Lee entered the final round with a one-shot lead over Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, but her biggest challenge came from Thompson, who tied her for the lead at 16 under with a birdie at the par-4 10th.
Both players birdied the par-5 12th to get to 17 under. But while Lee moved into sole possession of the lead with a birdie at the 14th, another par-5, Thompson couldn’t get another birdie to fall the rest of the day. She carded a bogey-free, 3-under 69 to finish at 17 under.
On the final hole, Thompson, who hasn’t won on tour since 2019, left a mid-range birdie putt low of the hole. It was a missed opportunity to apply pressure on Lee, who then sank a short birdie for the two-stroke victory.
“I was really concentrating on each shot one at a time,” Lee said. “I got on the putting green and I was like, just trying to see it go in. A lot of them kind of lipped out. But at the end of the day I still got the job done, so I’m happy.”
Sagstrom, who shot a 63 to take the first-round lead, finished with an even-par 72 on Sunday due in part to a triple bogey at the third hole. She tied for third with Angel Yin (67) at 16 under.
Carlota Ciganda of Spain fired a 64 with nine birdies and a bogey to take fifth place at 15 under. Nasa Hataoka of Japan (66) and Megan Khang (67) tied for sixth at 14 under.
Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand was the only player to best Ciganda on the day, posting a 10-birdie round of 63 to tie for eighth at 13 under with South Korea’s Hye-Jin Choi (66).
“Yesterday afternoon I have a talk with my coach,” said Thitikul, who had a 6-under 30 on the front nine. “My coach tells me, you have to think every final round, you hit a solid round. He would say, just go and have fun and do what you have to and be aggressive as you can … Maybe first three days I would say I came in a bit safe, so it’s hard to make it, and today I just do what he (told) me and be aggressive.”
–Field Level Media
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