Danny Lee settles for runner-up in Puerto Rico

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 10:44 10/03/2014
Danny Lee
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SETTLING FOR SECOND: Danny Lee closed with a four-under 68, including three birdies in the last four holes, to finish second at the Puerto Rico Open, his best PGA Tour finish.

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Danny Lee has secured his best finish on the PGA Tour and narrowly missed out on his maiden victory on the tour.

Lee shot a final round four-under 68 to be 19-under for the US$3.5m (NZ$4.14m) Puerto Rico Open, two behind winner, American Chesson Hadley.

Lee finished outright second.

His previous best PGA Tour finish was tied seventh at the 2009 AT&T National.Playing alongside Hadley this morning, Lee had an up and down round including seven birdies and three bogeys.

But birdies at 13, 15 and 16 put him back in contention.

He was one behind Hadley with two holes to go only for the American to make a birdie-three on the par-four 17th to Lee's par.That left Lee needing to eagle the 576m, par-five 18th to give him a chance, but the 23-year-old could only make birdie, the same as Hadley.

Most of the tour's big names weren't playing in Puerto Rico, instead playing in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in Florida, which is being played concurrently.

But Lee's second place will still leap him up the FedEx Cup rankings from 168th to 75th. The top-125 players retain their PGA Tour card. Fellow Kiwi Tim Wilkinson missed the cut in Puerto Rico and dropped from 83rd to 86th in the rankings. 

Hadley, who came into the event ranked 92nd in the world, collected US$630,000 and a two-year exemption on tour.

He was extremely nervous before the final round and had trouble eating, but a prayer session proved calming, as did an unlikely chip-in birdie at the fifth hole.

"That shot won me the tournament," the North Carolinian told reporters. "I was dead over there and I hit the nastiest little nipper and it snuck in the left door."

Hadley had a poor final round at the Honda Classic last week, after which he admonished himself.

"I went back to my hotel room and just let it all out," he said.

"From there on I just figured it out and golf's fine now. That just shows how quickly it can change."

Runner-up Lee took plenty of positives from his best result on the tour.

"I gave it my best but Chesson was just playing rock solid," said Lee, who in 2008 at the age of 18 became the youngest player to win the US Amateur Championship.

"He made a couple of good up-and-downs and when he plays like that it's just really hard to catch."

- Fairfax NZ, Reuters

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