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Australian golfer Minjee Lee has clinched her first ever major title after staging one of the most remarkable comebacks in history to win the Evian Championship in France.
The 25-year-old from Perth started the final round seven shots off the lead but forced her way into the playoff with an exceptional display, before claiming the title on a sudden-death play-off hole.
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Lee, often considered the best female player never to have won one of the five majors, got rid of that unwanted tag with an iconic display at Evian-les-Bains.
She played a flawless final round of seven-under 64 and then won a sudden death playoff at the first hole with a tap-in birdie.
Lee is just the fourth Aussie woman to win one of golf's major titles.
Roaring back from a record-equalling seven shots behind on Sunday, she caught up South Korea's Jeongeun Lee6, as the pair finished regulation at 18-under par 266.
"I've been waiting for this for so long, it just feels unreal to have won, amazing!" said Lee, after her popular triumph saw her doused in bubbly by pal Lydia Ko before she took a swig of champagne herself on the 18th green.
"Winning a major's easier said than done! They're all so good out there," added Lee, who finished third in both the 2017 ANA Inspirational and last year's Women's British Open.
"I never really thought about winning while I was playing. I just tried to make as many birdies as I could. I think I only saw the leaderboard once or twice."
The extraordinary nature of the victory left the golfing world singing the Aussie's praises on social media.
— Golf Australia ⛳️ (@GolfAust) July 25, 2021
Minjee Lee ties the record for largest come-from-behind victory in a major, starting seven back at the Evian and winning in a playoff. She was so clutch down the stretch.
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) July 25, 2021
Huge congratulations to Minjee Lee on her 1st major championship win...Australian golf is blessed with players who are both talented sportspeople and terrific role models for hard work and determination to succeed. https://t.co/9wMLAy0Kvm
— Glenn Smith (@glennsm72) July 25, 2021
Woo hoo. Awesome result. And the first of many. Olympic gold next?
— Lisa (@L15AJones) July 25, 2021
Minjee Lee Major Champion! Get in! pic.twitter.com/0YgsMWVCSa
— Brenton Speed (@BrentonSpeed) July 25, 2021
Great win for Minjee Lee. From seven strokes back entering the final round to a first career major title.
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelTAN) July 25, 2021
What a great inspiration for all junior girl golfers!
— Bonnie (@bboezeman3) July 25, 2021
Aussie joins elite company
Lee initially had no thoughts of joining seven-time winner Karrie Webb, three-time champ Jan Stephenson and Hannah Green in the Aussie major winners' circle.
Yet she set the pace with her seven birdies as well as a superb par-saving 10 footer at the 17th to keep her challenge on track.
At the 18th, Lee drove into the trees, but pitched out and got up-and-down for a fourth birdie in five holes, briefly holding a two-shot lead to put all the pressure on her two pursuers.
Lee6 had suffered a meltdown with her overnight five-shot lead over Noh - and seven over Lee - disappearing but fought back courageously at the end of her round with three closing birdies.
Yet the Western Australian Lee, who'd played the best golf over the weekend which included a 65 on Saturday, was nerveless at the first play-off hole, drilling her six-iron second at the par-five 18th to within eight feet of the pin.
It proved a glorious tournament winner - thanks to her caddie Jason Gilroyed.
"I had a bit of adrenaline," Lee said.
"I actually said, 'five iron' but Gilly said 'six' - so I went with the six-iron. Thank you, Gilly!"
Lee6 could only respond by catching her second shot thin to find the lake guarding the green resulting in a bogey.
It was another family triumph after younger brother Min Woo Lee's win on the men's European Tour in the Scottish Open a fortnight earlier.
"They were all cheering for me back home, but apparently my dad was like, 'she's going to get into a playoff and win' - so he kind of called it," Lee, who received a text of congratulations from Australia's greatest player Webb, said.
"They were really happy and a little bit teary, as happy as I am."
A five-time winner on the LPGA tour but without a win on the circuit for two years, the world's former No.1 amateur Lee was the next tipped for a major breakthrough after Green's 2019 Women's PGA victory.
After a brief stopover at her US base in Dallas, Lee's next challenge will be to go for gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
Extraordinarily, Lee's round wasn't even the best of the day.
That honour went to Ireland's Leona Maguire, whose 10-under 61 tied the lowest round ever by a female or male in a major - two days after Lee6 had done the same in the second round.
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