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Ilhee Lee wins inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic
May 26, 2013

Ilhee Lee, 2013 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic

Ilhee Lee, -11
Irene Cho, -9
Anna Nordqvist, -9
Cristie Kerr, -7

Ilhee Lee became the second-consecutive Rolex First-Time Winner of the season at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. Lee shot 5-under-par 42 on the 12-hole layout at Ocean Club Golf Course at Atlantis Resort for a two shot victory over Irene Cho.

Lee’s win ended a wild week on the LPGA where severe weather dumped more than a foot of rain on the tournament course on Tuesday. Recovery efforts by golf course staff from Wednesday through Saturday morning resulted in 45 million gallons of rain water being pumped off the tournament course.

“I can’t believe it right now,” said Lee, who finished the week at 11-under-par 126. “It feels amazing. This is the best day in my life. I'm so happy right now.”

Entering the week, Lee had four career top-10 finishes, including a previous career-best tie for third at the 2013 Kingsmill Championship. She also tied for fourth at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open.

When Lee joined the LPGA in 2010, she spoke no English. Determined to learn, she stayed each tournament week in private housing with a new family to force herself to speak the language.

“I learned from friends and then staying in housing, and then started to learn from there,” she said.

The fourth-year LPGA member started the day with three consecutive birdies including a chip-in on the second hole. She carded five in all on a windy day in Nassau, Bahamas.

Cho’s runner-up finish is a career best on the heels of a 7-under-par 40 on Sunday. Her round included a hole-out for eagle on the par-5 11th hole and a par save from the beach adjacent to the 13th green.

“I was like, I'm going to pull out a little Bill Haas and just try to get this up and over,” she said of her seaside shot.

Anna Nordqvist, who last week carded 61 in the third round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, finished alone in third at 8-under-par.

American Jennifer Johnson, a first-time winner at last week’s Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, tied for 13th.

Severe Weather on Tuesday Affects Tournament Week: Severe thunderstorms dropped more than a foot of rain on the Ocean Club Golf Course over an eight hour span on Tuesday, rendering several tournament holes unplayable. Making the best out of an extremely challenging situation, tournament officials shortened the format of the inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic to three 12-hole rounds in a routing that avoided unplayable holes.

USA All The Way: A total of 11 American players earned points toward the 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup Team with top-20 finishes at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. Irene Cho led the way with a runner-up finish. She was joined by U.S. Team veterans Paula Creamer (T4) and Cristie Kerr (T4). The 2013 Solheim Cup will be played Aug. 17-19 at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo., near Denver.

Golden ticket winners: Irene Cho, Mika Miyazato and Mindy Kim punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 21-24, 2012 in Naples, Fla. The third-annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.

Aces are Wild! Hee Won Han carded the third hole-in-one of the tournament today on the par-3 second hole with a 9-iron from 133 yards. Maude-Aimee Leblanc and Ji Young Oh also carded holes-in-one this week.

“Comet” Retires: Longtime LPGA rules official Jim “Comet” Haley will retire after the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. Haley began his 27-plus year career with the LPGA in January 1986 and estimates that he has worked more than 700 Tour events in that span.

Click here for full scores & prize money.


Q. Ilhee Lee, let's start with your thoughts on the day to day. How special is this for you?
ILHEE LEE: This is the best day in my life. I'm so happy right now.

Q. You started playing golf at the age of 10, right?

Q. I asked you out there and I'll ask it again, did you ever think that a day like this would come? Is it something that you felt confident in that you could be one of the great professional golfers?
ILHEE LEE: Yeah, I always believed in myself since I started golf, so today.

Q. Let's talk about your round today. Three straight birdies to start your round; how important was that for you?
ILHEE LEE: In the morning, my goal was just pars. I made long putts first hole, the second hole, third hole, birdies and then I was thinking maybe it's close. So I felt comfortable with the wind today. I think the wind helped me today.

Q. How long would you say the putt was on the first hole?
ILHEE LEE: The first hole was ten yards, 30 feet off the green.

Q. You're off the green. And then the second hole, how far?
ILHEE LEE: Second hole? Oh, that was a chip shot.

Q. A chip?
ILHEE LEE: Uh-huh.

Q. How far?
ILHEE LEE: 20 yards, more than that. It was blowing the wind from into, so I hit short of the green and I chipped in.

Q. Then how about the par-5, the 7th?
ILHEE LEE: The 7th hole, my tee shot went to the right, which is like no grass there. I chipped out with a 6-iron, and then another 150 yards left into the wind I hit a 5-iron like 10 feet and made it.

Q. That was a fairway on 18 from the rough?
ILHEE LEE: That was a 4-iron, like a hybrid, a 4-hybrid.

Q. And were you nervous on the putt on number 8 for par, because you had a 1-shot lead?
ILHEE LEE: I did. I did get nervous, but I knew I can putt. I can three-putt, so I hit the three-putt, so I just putted.

Q. You understood how important it was on number 8 when you were short and then hit it this far, and how important was it to make that putt?
ILHEE LEE: Yeah, uh-huh, that was an important putt this week. The most important putt this week, I think.

Q. We talked about this out there. If you want to show everybody your glasses. I said you like photography and I said go ahead and make a pose. Just as you were making a pose, for those of you who weren't out there, cans of shaving cream all over you. Show them your glasses on the back of your head. They've already wiped her down out there. She was completely drenched in shaving cream. What is it about golf that seems to make you so happy? You had such a big smile on your face out there on the green.
ILHEE LEE: This week I was very happy because I can play golf. I can swim. I can play. I can gamble (laughing). Then I felt this is the best job in the world. I love golf. I love to play. I love it.

Q. Where did you swim?
ILHEE LEE: Right by the hotel.

Q. At the beach?
ILHEE LEE: In the beach.

Q. In the ocean, right?
ILHEE LEE: Uh-huh.

Q. Tell the story, because I asked this earlier, we were talking about the bracelets and the slides at Atlantis. How many have you gone down, and I asked if you went down the Leap of Faith. Tell them what you've been doing this week?
ILHEE LEE: I went to the pool. I was there for five hours, I think, in one day. I had super fun. Then the shark tank slide was the best.

Q. You like sharks?

Q. That's when you're not swimming with them.

Q. But you actually tweaked your neck a little bit while you were playing around in the pool, right?
ILHEE LEE: Uh-huh.

Q. And no affect to your golf game whatsoever?
ILHEE LEE: No, no, not at all.

Q. How much did you gamble?
ILHEE LEE: I did a hundred dollars the first day, second day a hundred dollars. I lost 45 bucks. That's it. Not bad, huh? I went there four times this week, and I lost 45.


Q. So, second place finish today. Your career best. Just talk about how good that feels versus having to sit there and wait to see if maybe you had a playoff?
IRENE CHO: You know, it feels exactly the same, and I'm very proud of Ilhee. She played hard. I'm just thankful we got in all 36 holes, and here's to next week.

Q. Just talk about this week. When you showed up here, did you feel like there was something you wanted to work on in your game?
IRENE CHO: Honestly, I was always working on something with my game. I was working really hard on my putting this week, and that helped a lot because I four-jacked it the first day, just FYI. So after that day I was going to work on my stroke and make sure I got my stroke back.
It is what it is, and I'm happy for everybody. Yeah, here's to next week.

Q. You holed out for eagle on 11?
IRENE CHO: I didn't even see it, but apparently it was just in.

Q. What club did you hit?
IRENE CHO: I hit a 9-iron from, gosh, I want to say it was like 118 into the wind, so it was just a punch.

Q. Then a par save from the beach?
IRENE CHO: Oh, yeah, that was awesome.

Q. That was hole 13?
IRENE CHO: Yeah, 13, that hole is playing super hard, especially because the wind's blowing everything right, and you're like, man, how far left do I have to hit this thing.

Q. Is it in that little cove?
IRENE CHO: Yeah, uh-huh, and it was in the beach, and I was like there is some water around it. And I was like, shoot, I'm going to pull out a little Bill Haas and just try to get this up and over. My caddie's like do it, and I was like, okay.
So, yeah, I got it out perfect, and I was like, okay, let's make this fly. And he was like yep, you got it, pro. And it was a nice little solid putt. My putting was so good today, and I'm very happy with that.

Q. Just talk about obviously a strange week?
IRENE CHO: A little bit.

Q. 12 hole rounds, but regardless, how nice is it to finish up?
IRENE CHO: Oh, my gosh. I wish we got to see the rest of the golf course because it's really, really pretty, and it's a great look out on the ocean. But kudos to the maintenance crew for having us finish on hole 18, which is only the second time I've played it.


Q.A crazy week, but in the end, a good week for you. You'll probably be tied for third. Just tell me how you played?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I felt like I played really good all week. I couldn't really get anything going on the greens yesterday, but it's been hard conditions, especially the last two days. Today you're fighting the wind, and you try to make birdies and make a move, but it's hard because it's blowing so much.

Q. Just talk about the week overall. Kind of an odd situation with the 12 holes a day. Did it throw you off? Did you do anything differently this week?
ANNA NORDQVIST: No, I mean, it is what it is. It's the same for everyone.
It reminded me a little bit of Jamaica that I won in 2010, so that was like golfing six holes, but I think I learned a lot this week. It felt like a sprint this week instead of a marathon.


Q. Just sum up this week the best you can.
CRISTIE KERR: I don't know. No, I did the best I could. Today was brutal with the weather. You know what? I played well enough to get to 10 and just didn't putt one up. Just couldn't steady myself in the wind and get my putts online today, and it's just hard. It's a lot harder to do that.
Just glad the week is over. I'm happy we got an official tournament in for the sponsor. I think they deserved it. It's kind of weird playing the 18th hole for the first time all week after I saw it on Monday. I didn't play it exactly right, but I managed to squeak out a par.

Q. Are you leaving here frustrated, feeling good about your game, what is your takeaway?
CRISTIE KERR: Oh, I think I'm leaving feeling good about my game. I was in contention again today. I wish I could have had two more days, which I think a lot of people right now wish they could have had two more days. But it was just we got really kind of unlucky with the weather on the 18th hole. It started pouring on my tee shot, and I hit a bad tee shot, and lay-up, and tough wedge shot which I didn't execute well, and I managed to grind out a par. I've got to be happy with that. I finished T4, I believe.
Just happy the week is over, and hopefully we can come back and play the golf course next year because it's a solid, really great golf course.


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