Mirim Lee wins dramatic first golf major at Ana Inspiration

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Mirim Lee wins dramatic first golf major at Ana Inspiration

South Korea's Mirim Lee held her nerve to win a tense three-way play-off and claim her first golf major at the ANA Inspiration. Mirim Lee (29), also known as Lee Mi-rim, is a South Korean professional golfer. Lee turned professional in 2009.

She has played on the LPGA of Korea Tour since 2010 and has won three events on that tour. Mirim Lee, ranked No. 94 in the world, snatched a dramatic victory in a three-way finish at the ANA Inspiration in California as she edged out long-time leader Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson with a birdie at the first play-off hole.

"I think I had a bit of luck that helped me," she said. "My plan for 18 was just to have a birdie and do what I have to do to keep my head up," she said. "And when the shot went in, I think I was really surprised."

Lee chipped in three times on Sunday, the last one for an eagle on the 18th. It was another wild finish in the LPGA major. In the sweltering 100-degree heat of September, and no one was more surprised than the 29-year-old Lee.

A little bit of luck, a little bit of crazy

"I must be a little crazy for winning," Lee said through a translator. Asked on television off the 18th green if she was in disbelief, Lee was too busy wiping away tears to answer, so the translator finally offered, "Yes."

So was everyone. Lee was never in the lead at any point until she calmly holed a five-foot birdie putt on the first play-off hole, again the 18th, to beat Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson, who each had the lead on the back nine.

Korda, the 22-year-old American, also going for her first major, had a two-shot lead with four holes to play and couldn’t hold it. With a one-shot lead going to the par-five 18th, Korda missed the fairway, had to lay up and missed the green to the right, having to scramble for par and a 69 just to match Lee at 15-under.

Lee, who secured her spot in the play-off with an incredible chip-in eagle on the 18th, celebrated her victory by leaping into Poppie's Pond with her caddie Matt Gelczis, who performed a spectacular belly flop into the water.

"Usually I'm not afraid of water, but the pool looked a little deep," the world number 94 told the Golf Channel. "So it's true that at that moment, I hesitated a little bit." Lee's victory was her first LGPA Tour title since 2017 and the fourth of her career.