Castren becomes the first Finnish winner in LPGA Tour history.
A fog hung over Lake Mercad as the final round of the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship began. An obstacle that may have proved difficult for two golfers atop the leaderboard, Min Lee of Taiwan and Matilda Castren of Finland. Both players were seeking their first LPGA Tour victory.
Lee entered the day with a two stroke lead after shooting 4–under 68 in the third round of the tournament, but her lead quickly began to dwindle after Castren got off to a hot start. Castren birdied the first three holes, overtaking Lee after the third.
It would have been reasonable to believe that the pressure might get to Castren who now held the overall lead in just her 15th LPGA Tour start, but instead Castren widened the gap between herself and Lee after she eagled the par–5 fifth.
The two players’ roles were now completely reversed as it was Castren who held a two stroke lead with 13 holes remaining in the final round. Despite her inexperience and questionable weather conditions, Castren remained unbelievably consistent throughout the afternoon, turning in a bogey-free performance.
Lee made a strong push to reclaim her spot atop the leaderboard with three birdies on the back nine. Her comeback was derailed after she hit a bogey on the 18thhole, although she followed it with a birdie on the eighteenth, the damage was already done.
Castren finished her round with a birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 7–under 65, and her first LPGA Tour victory. Castren also made history as the first Finnish player to earn a victory on the LPGA Tour.
Lee held no ill will after her second place finish, stating that both players benefited from their experience on the course.
“It’s not a tough pill to swallow. It’s definitely good to me and her because she has great experience, and me too,” Lee said.
Lee is correct that both players’ performance will ultimately be useful as all golfers make a final push in the rankings to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Olympic qualification is based upon the Olympic player rankings, and only the top 60 players qualify.
Lee’s finish at Lake Mercad resulted in her moving up to No. 39 in the rankings. Castren’s Tour victory catapulted her up to No. 30 in the rankings, making her the highest ranked Finnish player.