World No. 9 Minjee Lee wins Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic
World No. 9 Minjee Lee wins Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: World No. 9 Minjee Lee secured her second Ladies European Tour (LET) victory following a dramatic play-off at the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic, late on Friday.

The Australian posted a three-under 69 under the floodlights at Emirates Golf Club’s Faldo course to finish on 10 under alongside Celine Boutier. The 26-year-old French national had led for most of the day until a late bogey saw her post a final-round 68 and head into a play-off with Minjee Lee.

The play-off took place on the par-four, 18th hole of the Faldo course, with both players needing to sink tough putts to win the contest. Boutier came up short with a 30-foot birdie effort, while Minjee Lee kept her cool and sank a fantastic 20-foot putt to secure the win on the first extra hole itself.

“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 real fun week,” Minjee said later.

“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 and 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,” she added.

Boutier, who had been flawless for most of the final 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, Caroline 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 time playing night golf was certainly memorable,” the Australian reflected.

Leader for the first two days, Hedwall couldn’t quite deliver heading into the third and final day while finishing in tied third, a shot back alongside 2019 Moonlight Classic winner, Nuria Iturrioz of Spain and Germany’s Laura Fuenfstueck.

Formerly known as the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, the inaugural tournament was played in 2006, with a strong roll-call of previous winners, including the two-time winner, Annika Sorenstam, and four-time champion, Shanshan Feng.

The newly named and scheduled tournament was switched from May to November after its first staging in spring 2019 when it achieved global recognition as the world’s first professional day-night tour event.

Final leaderboard

1. Minjee Lee (Australia) 206
2. Celine Boutier (France) 206
T3. Laura Fuenfstueck (Germany) 207
T3. Nuria Iturrioz (Spain) 207
T3. Caroline Hedwall (Sweden) 207
T6. Aditi Ashok (India) 208
T6. Meghan MacLaren (England) 208