It was anyone’s tournament heading into the final round of the AmazingCre Portland Classic and it was that way all day at Columbia Edgewater Country Club. With numerous lead changes and a myriad of elite players surging to the top of the leaderboard on Sunday, a clear champion wasn’t established until the final putts. That champion is Andrea Lee, who finished at -19 and earned the first victory of her career on the LPGA Tour.
“All the hard work has paid off. It was my dream to win on the LPGA Tour, and to have achieved that today is just surreal,” said the Rolex First-Time Winner . “Some of the past (Portland Classic) champions are legends of the game…I’m extremely honored to join this list of names.”
Lee started the day at -13 and in the lead group alongside Epson Tour graduate Lilia Vu and Ayaka Furue, the first winner in 2022. She got off to a rocky start with two bogeys in her first three holes, but turned things around soon after with birdies on holes five, six and seven. The American continued the barrage of birdies with five on the back nine and took advantage of Columbia Edgewater’s four par-5s all throughout the round, each scoring a birdie.
Lee had a two-stroke lead at -19 heading into the final two holes, but struggled on the par-4 17th after her ball landed in a fairway divot.
“It was obviously a bad break, but there was nothing you could do about it. I was kind of between clubs. I was wondering if I should hit a really full 7-iron or a constricted 6-iron, and I went with choke 6 and I pulled a bit,” Lee explained. “I took it pretty clean. I think if I aimed a bit more to the right it would have been on the green. But shot it and went into the bunker. I just had to keep calm and try to get up and hit him about a foot away, which certainly helped calm the nerves.
Lee’s spectacular sand save kept him two strokes ahead going into the final hole. Ecuadorian Daniela Darquea, playing a group up, put the pressure on Lee with a birdie on No. 18 to reach -18. But Lee said she stayed calm, avoided focusing on the standings and finished with a routine par that made her an LPGA champion.
Looking at Lee’s final stats, it’s easy to see how she became champion. The Stanford alum led the pack in birdies and hit the most fairways and greens in regulation. Her game is the best it’s ever been, she says, but it’s been a long road to get there.
“My junior career and my amateur career have always been pretty smooth, I would say. I kind of had high expectations of myself coming into the LPGA and turning pro. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed from the start.” , said Lee, who is tied for the title of winningest golfer in Stanford history. “It wasn’t the case at all. 2020 was a decent year, but then 2021 was a struggle… I just learned from all those experiences last year, and I really grew as a as a golfer and I’m really proud of how I managed to use all that experience to get this win today.”
Darquea’s second place finish is his best on the LPGA Tour. His previous record was a tie for fifth at the 2018 Dana Open presented by Marathon. The 27-year-old lost her full status on the LPGA Tour from 2022, but has used her Epson Tour membership to improve her game and boost her confidence at the five LPGA events she has competed in this season. In fact, Darquea was wondering whether to even play Portland this week or play the Epson Tour. She said she made the right choice.
“It was tough at the start of the year, losing the card, going back to Epson,” said Darquea, who had seven birdies and a bogey on Sunday to earn second place. “I know I have the game to be here. I just need to keep the mental game the way it is.
Five players tied for third place, including third-round co-leaders Furue and Vu, 2019 Portland Classic champion Hannah Green, German golfer Esther Henseleit and Korean Narin An. An’s bogey-free 64 allowed her to climb in the ranking from T14 to T3. Her -8 round was bested only by Bianca Pagdanganan, whose 9-under 63 was the best 18-hole score of the week at Columbia Edgewater. Making her LPGA Tour debut, Maja Stark earned an eighth-place finish with a 6-under final round that saw her top after five straight birdies at holes 4-8.