Danny Lee has much to celebrate in Puerto Rico

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 11/03/2014
Danny Lee
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SECOND AINT SO BAD: Danny Lee would have been disappointed to miss out on a maiden victory, but the Kiwi golfer pocketed his most handsome paycheck to date with his second-place finish.

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Danny Lee made more money in four rounds of golf this week than he did in the entire 2012 PGA Tour season.

Lee, 23, finished second at the Puerto Rico Open yesterday and collected a cool US$378,000 (NZ$447,020).

In 2012 he played 26 tournaments, made 13 cuts, finished inside the top-25 on three occasions and banked $359,112 (NZ$424,683).

Lee's second place - behind American winner Chesson Hadley - also sees him leap up the FedEx Cup rankings. Lee was 168th before this week's tournament but jumped 93 places to 75th, with the top 125 at season's end retaining their PGA Tour cards.

It was comfortably his best result on the PGA Tour, beating his tied seventh finish at the 2009 AT&T National.

He yesterday shot a final round four-under par 68 to finish at 19-under, two behind Hadley and alone in second place.

Playing alongside Hadley, Lee had an up and down round including seven birdies and three bogeys. He picked up shots on four of the last six holes and got within one with two holes to play but the American finished birdie-birdie to seal the victory.

Lee was pleased with how he played, but frustrated he was not able to crack Hadley, who beat him by two shots in the last year's Rex Hospital Open on the second-tier Web.com Tour in Hadley's home town of Raleigh, North Carolina.

"I felt like I really played good this week," he said.

"I was making good putts, good shots, a lot of good shots. And I was making good up and downs, but I did all I could do, so I'm pleased with solo second.

"I really felt like I did my best. I gave it my best, but Chesson was just playing rock solid. He made a couple of good up and downs from bad tee shots. And you know, when he plays like that, it's just really hard to catch. He just didn't make any silly mistakes at all."

Lee's second place marks a massive turnaround in form for the 2008 US Amateur champion who started last week's tournament as the Kiwi No 5. This was his 10th start of the 2014 PGA Tour season and only the third cut he had made.

Before his second place he'd collected US$45,657 ($53,994) in earnings this year, but his near half million dollar pay-day will go a long way to securing his 2015 card and is likely to leap him up from his current world ranking of 395.

The result also means another start for Lee, next week in the lucrative US$5.7m (NZ$6.7m) Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida.

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That tournament will feature a number of the world's best, unlike Puerto Rico which was being run at the same time as the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in Florida so was missing the top tier of players.

- The Press

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