Ex-U.S. Amateur champion Lee gets first pro title at WNB Golf Classic

By
PGA.com news services

Series: Web.com Tour

It took Danny Lee just 19 starts on Nationwide Tour to capture his first professional title. The 21-year-old native of Seoul, South Korea, made a par on the first playoff hole Sunday to defeat fellow rookie Harris English at the WNB Golf Classic.

His 72-hole total of 18-under-par 270 included a final-round 6-under-par 66 and it earned him a check for $94,500.

WNB CLASSIC

This week marks the 20th straight year that the Nationwide Tour has played in the Midland/Odessa area, and Midland Country Club has been the host venue since 2002.

Lee had started the day six strokes behind 54-hole leader B.J. Staten, but when Staten stumbled to a 4-over-par 40 on the front nine, it opened the door. As many as five players led or shared the lead at various points during the day but it was Lee and English who emerged from the crowded leaderboard to get into the playoff.

In the playoff, Lee's tee shot hit a tree and kicked right but he fortunately had a clear shot to the flag. His second landed in the greenside bunker, but he hit a near-perfect shot to within a foot of the hole. He tapped in for the win. English found himself in trouble off the tee. He hit his drive behind some trees and was forced to punch out. He hit his third to about seven feet, but missed his par putt opening the door for Lee, who sank his winning putt.

"It feels great to win again," said the former 2008 U.S. Amateur champion. I haven't won a tournament since I won the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic and it's a great feeling. It's not easy to win and I worked really hard with my uncle and my coach for this. I'm really happy it worked."

English was seeking his second win on the Nationwide Tour in 2011. He won the Children's Hospital Invitational in July as an amateur and turned professional before last week's Soboba Golf Classic where he finished T49.

"I didn't hit my tee shot where I wanted to in the playoff. I tried to get a good angle at the flag but kind of got a bad break but that's what happens," English said. I gave myself a chance for par and that's all I could get. I started off a little slow today with a bogey at No. 1 but the eagle at No. 12 really got me going and got me back in it and I kind of cruised in from there. Overall, it was a good day. I was just glad I was in it."

With his second-place finish, English earned $56,700 and he moved to 79th on the 2011 money list.

By overcoming Staten's six-stroke deficit, Lee set a new tournament mark for the best come-from-behind victory in the events' history, surpassing the four strokes Brad Adamonis made up the final day in 2007.

Staten had started the day with a two-stroke margin over Gavin Coles, but made bogeys on holes 3-4-5 and another on No. 9. He finished with a 5-over-par 77.

"I didn't hit it well today and I got out of my tempo and then you start pressing," said Staten. "I just didn't make anything all day. It's unfortunate because you've got to put four rounds together out here or you're not going to win."

Final-Round Notes:

--Danny Lee will travel to South Korea on Monday to compete in the Korea Open. He becomes the 12th first time winner of this event and the second in succession. Lee is now fourth on the money list with $271,700.

--This was the seventh playoff in tournament history and the first since 2007, when Brad Adamonis won.

--The field averaged 71.642 on Sunday and 71.024 for the tournament.

--Garth Mulroy had the day's low round, an 8-under-par 64 and finished solo third and it allowed him to jump from 26th to 16th on the money list. Brenden Pappas, who was 25th a week ago, slipped one spot to 26th.

--David Lingmerth was the only player to post four straight rounds in the 60s.