Minjee Lee wins first major at the Evian

Australian golf star Minjee Lee has won her first major title, taking the Evian Championship in France in a playoff after firing a dazzling final round of 64.

MINJEE LEE.
MINJEE LEE. Picture: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Minjee Lee has joined the legends of Australian women's golf after earning the major championship that her talents have long demanded, lifting the Evian Championship in France with one of the all-time great comeback performances.

The 25-year-old from Perth, often considered the best female player never to win one of the five majors, got rid of that unwanted tag with a bravura 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.

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."

It made for good reading as she, Lee6 and teenage American Yealimi Noh all battled for the title - although the Australian had initially no thoughts of joining seven-time winner Karrie Webb, three-time champ Jan Stephenson and Hannah Green as an Aussie women's major victor.

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.

AUSTRALIAN WOMEN TO WIN GOLF MAJORS:

Minjee Lee (2021 Evian Championship)

Hannah Green (2019 PGA Championship)

Karrie Webb (1999 du Maurier Classic, 2000 and 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship, 2000 and 2001 US Women's Open, 2001 LPGA Championship, 2002 Women's British Open)

Jan Stephenson (1981 du Maurier Classic, 1982 LPGA Championship, 1983 US Women's Open)