Gritty Lee takes The Greenbrier in playoff
The New Zealander claims his first PGA TOUR victory after outlasting three others
July 05, 2015
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Danny Lee shot 63-69-68-67 this week and claimed his first PGA TOUR win in a playoff. (Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- After the four players about to enter Sunday's playoff at The Greenbrier Classic had drawn the slips of paper that determined the order in which they'd tee off on the first extra hole, Danny Lee's caddie took his boss' and deposited it in the signature wishing well at the center of the trophy.
"He put it there so I can win it," Lee later said with a grin.
Turns out, the 24-year-old was equal to the task. Lee was the victor in a playoff that featured David Hearn, Kevin Kisner and Robert Streb. All had finished regulation at 13 under.
"I was just trying to calm down," Lee said, recalling his emotions as the playoff began. "I was so nervous. My head was blank and I was just trying to breathe. As soon as I stand on the 18th tee box, first playoff (hole), I felt ready.
"I felt like I could really win this thing."
Kisner, who was participating in his third playoff of the season, and Streb were eliminated first after missing the green at the par 3. Lee drained an 18-footer for birdie there and Hearn matched him from 16 to send the playoff to another hole.
Lee went on to tap-in for a two-putt par on the second playoff hole, the par-5 17th, to seal the victory. It was the third playoff in the six-year history of The Greenbrier Classic and the 14th on TOUR this year.
Hearn, meanwhile, had put himself behind the eight-ball on the second playoff hole when he hit his drive behind a tree and his second shot into the tall grass above a fairway bunker. The Canadian was able to get his third shot back out onto the short grass and his fourth shot landed about a foot right of the pin but continued over the green and down into the shaved area.
He then missed the 28-footer to save par and send the playoff to another hole.
"Real proud of the way I made the putt to extend the playoff and continued to give myself a chance," Hearn said. "Just didn't go my way on that 17th hole. I hit a bad tee shot. That was probably the only bad tee shot I hit all day.
"I've just got to keep giving myself chances like this, and it's going to happen soon."
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
1. EXTRA MOTIVATION: The Greenbrier Classic was Lee's 27th event of the season. Lee, who was born in South Korea but now lives in New Zealand and is a citizen there, said he loves to play golf -- but he has additional motivation this year.
"The reason I played so many events was I was really trying to make it into the Presidents Cup this year," Lee said. "It's back in Korea. That's where I'm born. I kind of feel like I was playing good but not good enough to win a golf tournament, but this week for some reason I just felt right."
No doubt International caption Nick Price took notice on Sunday.
2. CHANGE OF PLANS: David Hearn, Danny Lee, James Hahn and Greg Owen are headed to St. Andrews in two weeks thanks to the Open Championship Qualifying Series.
Invitations were available to the four players in the top 12 not otherwise qualified. Bryce Molder had a chance to grab the final spot from Owen with a birdie at the 18th hole but his putt came up several inches short.
"I always wanted to play there," Lee said. "... I cannot wait."
"I'm going to be pinching myself the whole week," Hearn added.
Lee and Hahn will be making their Open Championship debuts. Hearn played in his first Open a year ago at Royal Liverpool and tied for 32nd. For Owen, this will be his eighth appearance with a tie for 22nd in 2006 his best finish.
Four players -- Luke Donald, Carl Pettersson, Brian Harman and Graham DeLeat -- earned the four available spots at last week's Travelers Championship. The highest finisher among the top-five at next week's John Deere Classic, not otherwise exempt, will get the final spot available in the United States. (Four will be awarded at the Aberdeen Assets Management Scottish Open, though.)
3. THIRD TIME NO CHARM: Kevin Kisner hit the same club he did in regulation at the 18th hole in the sudden death. Only, this time the ball flew over the green and settled in a horrific lie where he needed two shots just to get it back onto the green -- the first advancing a matter of inches.
"I thought it was good in the air," Kisner said. "Probably just a little pumped up. But I was glad to be in that situation."
For the third time since April, no less. Kisner, who closed with a 64 on Sunday at The Old White TPC, also lost in a playoff at the RBC Heritage and THE PLAYERS Championship.
"I keep knocking on it, I'll be there soon enough," he said. "I keep playing well, I'll win one of them."
It's my fourth time playing here, and I liked it every single year. Only one wish I had was if I had a girlfriend, it wouldn't be as lonely in the room.
Danny Lee’s triumphant playoff victory at The Greenbrier Classic
CALL OF THE DAY
Doug Bell calls David Hearn's clutch birdie on No. 18 during the first playoff hole at The Greenbrier Classic.
SHOT OF THE DAY
SHOT OF THE DAY
Danny Lee cashes in with birdie on first playoff hole at The Greenbrier
That's what happens when u win huh?— Danny Lee (@dannygolf72) July 6, 2015
89 messages— Danny Lee (@dannygolf72) July 6, 2015
incredible finish to tournament from @therealstrebber playing the last nine putting with wedge in -3 to look like he's headed to a playoff!— Scott Gardiner (@gards76) July 5, 2015