Vilips, Lee win Junior Orange Bowl International golf titles by one stroke

Karl Vilips and Somi Lee with their championship trophies.
Karl Vilips and Somi Lee with their championship trophies.

Karl Vilips and Somi Lee are two low-key, control-your-demeanor youngsters who are among the best international junior golfers in the world. If you had to define their personalities, they are way, way too modest and humble.

If anything could make them yelp in joy, it would be their finishes to win the titles at the Junior Orange Bowl International Championships on Friday at Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables. Yet, both claimed their trophies with no yelps and quiet modesty.

Vilips, 15 and from Australia, captured the boys’ title by making an eagle on the par-5 18th hole, chipping into the hole from 40 yards out with a lob wedge. Lee won the girls’ title by making birdie on that same hole. Both won by one shot.

Time to jump up and down in celebration? Not these two.

Vilips, who was tied for third with two others on the 18th tee, said when his chip bounced into the hole, “I gave a little fist bump, but that’s the most I ever do.

“I was a little shocked when it went in. When it did go in, I said to myself, ‘I’ve got this, I’ve won.’ 

Lee, 17 and from South Korea, is as much understated as Vilips. She approached the 18th knowing she needed birdie to win.

“I was nervous,” she said. “This was my last tournament of the year, and I wanted to do well.”

If winning it outright is doing well, she certainly accomplished that. Lee admitted that the tournament, with the final day played in a strong wind, “made me tired — physically and mentally. On that final hole, I knew I needed a birdie and not a par.”

The most emotion she showed was after the awards ceremony, saying: “This makes me super-duper happy.”

She immediately called her parents in South Korea, at 4 a.m. their time, to tell them the good news. Did she wake them up?

“No, not at all,” she said. “They could not sleep because they were waiting to hear the result.”

In the boys’ division, Edgar Catherine of France finished second, with defending champion Kristoffer Reitan of Norway in third place.

In the girls’ division, Agathe Laisne of France took second and Monet Chun of Canada placed third.


Girls: 1. Somi Lee, South Korea, 68-69-69-71—277; 2. Agathe Laisne, France, 67-72-71-68—278; 3. Monet Chun, Canada, 68-73-69-74—284; 4. (tie) Hikari Kuranaga, Japan, 71-75-70-71—287; Ana Laura Collado, Mexico, 69-72-72-74—287.

Boys: 1. Karl Vilips, Australia, 65-67-71-69—272; 2. Edgar Catherine, France, 68-70-67-68—273; 3. Kristoffer Reitan, Norway, 70-71-63-70—274; 4. Joaquin Niemann, Chile, 67-70-70-68—275. 5. Will Dickson, U.S., 71-69-70-68—278.