LPGA MATCH PLAY Baena defeats Lee in final 1-up
As the 60th seed, she posted her first LPGA Tour victory.
GLADSTONE, N.J. (AP) -- Marisa Baena completed a surprising run from 60th seed to first-time LPGA Tour winner Sunday, holding off South Korean rookie Meena Lee 1-up in the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship.
A year after seriously considering giving up tour play, Baena beat six higher-seeded opponents for the breakthrough victory on Hamilton Farm's hilly Highlands Course.
The 28-year-old Colombian earned $500,000 for her first victory in 152 career LPGA Tour events and also received a three-year tour exemption.
"It has been a great week," Baena said. "I have no words."
Beat Kung in semifinals
In the morning semifinals, Baena rallied to beat eighth-seeded Candie Kung 2-up. Baena opened the 64-player tournament with a victory over fifth-seeded Natalie Gulbis and also beat No. 37 Grace Park, No. 21 Jennifer Rosales and No. 29 Karrie Webb.
Baena closed out the 23-year-old Lee with a conceded par on the par-4 18th after rolling her birdie try within 2 feet of the cup.
Lee won the 15th and 16th holes to pull within one and halved the 17th to extend the match. Lee made a 9-foot birdie putt on the par-4 15th, holed a 15-footer for par on the par-4 16th and stayed alive with a 10-foot par putt on the par-3 17th.
They were even after seven holes, with Baena winning the par-4 first and fourth holes with birdies and Lee taking the par-3 third and par-4 sixth with birdies.
Baena birdied the par-4 eighth and par-5 ninth to take a two-hole lead, Lee won the par-4 10th with a 12-foot birdie putt and Baena pulled two holes ahead again with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 11th.
After Lee parred the par-3 12th to pull within a hole, Baena countered with a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-4 13th and pushed her lead to three holes with a conceded birdie on the par-5 14th.
Baena reached the green on No. 14 in two with a fairway wood from 218 yards and hit her first putt to 2 feet.
Sunday morning, Baena overcame a two-hole deficit with five to play against Kung, the 23-year-old Taiwanese player who rallied from 2-down with four to play to beat top-seeded Annika Sorenstam in the quarterfinals Saturday.
Baena earned spots in her first four tournaments of the year as a Monday qualifier and made enough money in those events to regain exempt status on the tour. She lost her exempt status last year after making only eight cuts and earning $35,594.
In the other semifinal, Lee beat 14th-seeded Wendy Ward 1-up.
Ward won the third-place match, rallying to beat Kung 2 and 1.
Baena won 10 events at the University of Arizona, including the 1996 NCAA tournament, and lost to Kelli Kuehne in the 1996 U.S. Women's Amateur final. She missed the cut last week in the U.S. Women's Open and entered the week 63rd on the money list with $87,258. ... Baena also received a gold necklace encrusted with diamonds and rubies. Lee earned $300,000, Ward received $200,000 and Kung got $150,000. ... Lee earned her tour card in December with a 25th-place tie in the qualifying tournament after finishing 23rd on the Futures Tour money list. She tied for second in the LPGA Corning Classic in late May, closing with a double bogey to finish two strokes behind winner Jimin Kang.
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