Matilda Castren becomes 1st Finnish winner in LPGA Tour history

Matilda Castren becomes 1st Finnish winner in LPGA Tour history

Matilda Castren on Sunday became the first Finnish winner in LPGA Tour history in the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, moving away on the top nine in the foggy Lake Merced and pushing back Min Lee by two strokes.

“Oh, my God. I can’t believe this is happening,” Castren said. “I mean, I knew one day it would be me, but you didn’t think it would be so soon. But I’m obviously so happy right now.”

Two shots behind Lee entering the final day of the two-week race on the San Francisco Peninsula Tour, Castren birdied the first three holes, tied the fifth par 5 and birdied the ninth par. 5 for a 30 before nine.

Castren followed with eight straight pars and birdied 3 feet on the 18th par-5 for a 7 under 65. The 26-year-old former Florida State won her 15th career start on the LPGA Tour. She finished at 14 under 274 after finishing tied for 30th last week at the US Women’s Open at the nearby Olympic club.

“I just played shot by shot, hole by hole, and I just tried to be very patient,” Castren said. “I thought about it all day, like winning, and I just tried to focus on one shot at a time. It just happened.”

WATCH | Matilda Castren becomes the 1st Finnish winner in the history of the LPGA Tour:

Castren’s two-stage victory in the Mediheal Championship was the first LPGA victory in the 26-year-old’s career. 1:19

Lee finished with a 69. She reduced Castren’s lead to one with a birdie on the 15th par-5, but lost a stroke with a two-putt bogey on the 17th par-3.

“I think I’m playing well today,” Lee said. “Obviously she played a lot better up front so I’m not going to punish myself because it was a great week.”

Lee missed a chance to become the first player to follow a Symetra Tour win with an LPGA Tour win on her next start. The 26-year-old from Taiwan won the Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship two weeks ago in Florida on the development tour.

“To win a tournament, you have to train, and that’s great training,” Lee said. “Maybe after a few times I’ll be there.”

Hannah Green (66) and So Yeon Ryu (67) are tied for third at 8 under.

Alena Sharp of Hamilton was the only Canadian to qualify for the weekend. She clocked a par 72 in the final round and was tied for 52nd at 2 points.

Lexi Thompson shot a 74 to tie it 34th to 1 more. A week ago at the Olympics, she lost a five-stroke lead in the final round, playing the last seven holes in 5 to complete a stroke in a playoff won by Yuka Saso. Women’s Open playoff loser Saso and Nasa Hataoka skipped the event at Lake Merced.

Michelle Wie West finished with a 71 to tie for 40th after missing the weekend cups in her first four events of the year.

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