Minjee Lee misses golden LPGA opportunity

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 Minjee Lee misses golden LPGA opportunity
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It's advantage Lydia Ko after Minjee Lee failed to make the most of the New Zealander's absence from the LPGA Tour's TOTO Japan Classic in Shiga.

Gemma Dryburgh became the first Scot to win on the LPGA Tour in 11 years after careering to a runaway four-shot victory with a final-round seven-under-par 65 on Sunday.

The 29-year-old is also the 26th different victor this season and the 11th first-time winner.

But it was Lee's attempt overtake Ko in the Rolex Player of the Year race that was of most importance to Australian golf fans.

Lee entered the week one point behind Ko, with important points awarded to all top-10 finishers.

Alas, the US Open champion had to settle for a share of 36th at four under after closing with a round of 70.

It was Lee's best result from her past six events as the world No.5 battles a mini form slump after a sapping season highlighted by her second major triumph in June, a joint runner-up showing at the US PGA Championship and fourth at the Women's British Open.

But still not enough to regain the lead for player-of-the-year honours entering the home stretch.

Ko, with 150 points, retains the slimmest possible advantage over Lee (149), with Thailand's new world No.1 Atthaya Thitikul (130) and American Brooke Henderson (130) also locked in a seemingly four-way fight for the prestigious prize.

With two tournaments remaining in 2022, a win is worth 30 points; a runner-up finish worth 12; third place worth nine, fourth seven, fifth six and each spot between sixth and 10 is worth between five points and one.

Thitikul drew level with Henderson after scraping into a tie for 10th in Shiga with a Sunday 67.

At 10 under, Thitikul finished 10 shots behind Dryburgh, who collected seven birdies in a flawless final round to leave the field in her wake.

Japanese home hope Kana Nagai (65) was solo second at 16 under, with Swede Linn Grant (67) a stroke further back in outright third. 

With Lee sitting out this week's Pelican Women's Championship in Florida, the West Australian's player-of-the-year fate is suddenly out of her control.

If the returning Ko wins, the honour is hers.


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