Golf: Lee in dreamland after stunning win at Johnnie Walker Classic

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For New Zealand's top amateur golfer Danny Lee, it felt like a dream he hoped no one would disturb him from.

Sitting in the media room at The Vines in Perth, the 18-year-old from Rotorua tried to comprehend how he'd beaten some of the world's best players for a one-stroke victory in the Johnnie Walker Classic.

The world's leading amateur burst from the chasing pack with birdies in his four of his last six holes to finish 17-under-par and edge out Englishman Ross McGowan, Argentina's Felipe Aguilar and Japan's Hiroyuki Fujita.

"It still feels like I'm in a dream and I hope nobody wakes me up," he said.

"I was dreaming about (winning) and my goal was to be making the cut after two rounds and trying to get into the top-20. I played extremely well the last few days, and yeah, here I am."

Lee shot four consecutive rounds in the 60s: 67, 68, 69, and another five-under 67 today, including seven birdies and two bogeys.

He became the youngest winner of the prestigious tournament, and the first amateur winner of an Australasian Tour event in 10 years since Brett Rumford claimed the 1999 ANZ Players Championship.

It was also back-to-back New Zealand victories in the A$2.75 million ($3.54 million) tri-sanctioned event, after Mark Brown won in India last year.

But Lee won't see a cent of the A$460,000 first prize, having decided not to turn professional after he plays the US Masters in April. That was in order to retain his automatic entry into the Masters which he earned with his breakthrough US Amateur title last year.

Still, the victory was invaluable to earn Lee a two-year exemption on the European, Asian and Australasian tours.

And New Zealand galleries will get to see the country's rising star first-hand next month when he crosses the Tasman for the New Zealand Open and PGA Championship.

Lee teed off today at the par-five 18th with a share of the lead alongside Fujita, and showed nerves of steel to put his second shot to the heart of the green and a 50-foot chance for eagle.

His putt looked dead centre but just lipped out, leaving him a tap-in for birdie and the comfort of a two-shot buffer over McGowan who needed an eagle on the last just to force a playoff. He could only manage birdie.

Among those in Lee's wake were top players Anthony Kim, Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie, while Camilo Villegas and Greg Norman were two high-profile figures to miss the cut.

He began today equal third, two shots behind co-leaders McGowan and fellow Englishman John Bickerton, but only started to believe he could win when he birdied the ninth.

His key putt was the downhill 10-foot par save on 16, and the subsequent fist-pump showed he was in the zone to win.

"I was at 15-under and the leader was at 16, so I was thinking, this is the putt if you want to win the tournament. I was really focused on the putt and I made it," Lee said.

Earlier, a three-putt bogey when his putt lipped out on the 12th, at the same time McGowan was birdying the 12th, saw Lee slip four shots off the pace and his victory chances looked bleak.

But he again showed character beyond his years with a cool six-foot birdie putt on 14 and the save on 16 to get within a shot of the lead after McGowan notched his first bogey of the day on the 14th.

McGowan blundered again with a bogey on 16 as Lee hit his approach to within 10 feet on 17, then sank the putt for a share of the lead to set up a thrilling finish.

Of the other New Zealanders, David Smail finished strongly with back-to-back rounds of 69 to finish nine-under in a tie for 31st, while Michael Long carded a final round 76 to finish six-over.


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