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Jeongeun Lee6 won the 74th U.S. Women's Open Championship held at the Country Club of Charleston Sunday, June 2, 2019. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Jeongeun Lee6 — you can just call her "Six" — has big plans for the first $1 million first prize in the 74-year history of the U.S. Women's Open.

Ramen and new shoes.

"My goal was, if I win the tournament, I can eat ramen," the 23-year-old South Korean said Sunday after winning the U.S. Women's Open at the Country Club of Charleston.

"That was my goal. If I finish top five, I can buy shoes. But (now), I can buy shoes and eat ramen, so it's a double."

With that $1 million first prize and the oldest major championship in women's golf on the line Sunday, the leaders stumbled early and often at the Country Club of Charleston.

It was Lee6, a 23-year-old South Korean who's never won on the LPGA Tour, who righted herself first and best.

Lee6 — the Korean LPGA added the 6 to her name because she was the sixth Korean golfer with the same name — ran off three birdies on the back nine and held on to make her first LPGA Tour victory a huge one.

She shot a 1-under-par 70 during a Sunday afternoon pressure cooker in 94-degree heat that cracked other contenders. Her final score of 6-under 278 included rounds of 70, 69 and 69. She was the only player in the field under par for each round and the only player in the final five groups Sunday to break par.

That performance earned her that $1 million check, and she will have her name (and number) etched on the Harton S. Semple Trophy as the 10th South Korean to win the Open.

"As a rookie player, I didn't even expect to win the tournament this fast," said Lee6, who just joined the LPGA Tour this season. "I think this is very lucky that I won this major championship."

'Lucky 6'

In tears, Lee6 was doused with champagne by friends and fellow players after Frenchwoman Celine Boutier, the last player with a chance to force a playoff, failed to birdie No. 18.

It was an emotional moment for Lee6, whose father was paralyzed in a car accident when she was just 4 years old. That made it difficult for the family to travel to tournaments in Korea, and she turned pro when she was just 19 to help support the family.

"Looking at my family situation back then, I thought about wanting to play golf," she said. "I wanted to support my family no matter what."

Lee6 goes by the nicknames of "Hot 6" and "Lucky 6", but exuded a maturity that eluded some of her elders on Sunday.

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Jeongeun Lee6 makes birdie on hole 11 during the 4th round of the 74th U.S. Women's Open Championship into day four held at the Country Club of Charleston Sunday, June 2, 2019. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

The final six players off the tee — Boutier, Liu, Thompson, Green, Higa and Lee6 — were a combined 10 over through four holes. Even Lee6 bogeyed the first hole.

But she also was also the only player among the final 24 players to birdie the infamous par-3 11th, draining a 7-footer to tie for the lead at 6 under.

She stuffed her approach to 5 feet for a birdie at No. 12, then knocked her third shot at the par-5 15th to 5 feet for another birdie to get to 8 under, three shots clear of the field. 

She needed all three of those shots, stumbling in with bogeys on 16 and 18. But it was enough for her to become the 11th different winner in the last 11 Opens.

"I was nervous starting 16, 17 and 18," she said. "I knew that if I make pars on all those holes, I'm going to win the tournament."

'Rough day'

Boutier, who was tied for the third-round lead at 7 under, was the last player to have a chance to catch Lee6.

The former Duke star double-bogeyed the first and final holes but rallied to get to 5 under.

Boutier had a 3-footer on 16 to cut Lee6's lead to one but lipped out the putt. She could have tied Lee6 with birdies at 17 or 18, but she missed a long birdie putt at 17 and splashed a 6-iron into the greenside bunker on 18.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, it was probably a 1," Boutier said of her 4-over 75  to tie for fifth. "I feel pretty bad right now. Hopefully, I will learn from this ... I played so bad, I didn't even think I had a chance."

American Angel Yin and South Korean So Yeon Ryu started six and five strokes back, respectively, but made late charges to finish tied for second at 4 under with American star Lexi Thompson.

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Lexi Thompson chips her ball onto the green during the 4th round of the 74th U.S. Women's Open Championship into day four held at the Country Club of Charleston Sunday, June 2, 2019. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Thompson began the day just one shot back but stumbled to a 2-over 73 and failed to win her second major title.

"It was a bit of a rough day," said Thompson, who switched to a claw-grip putting style this week and finished 41st in the field in putting. "Definitely wasn't my ball-striking. I got off to a pretty bad start. Just overall, wasn't as comfortable, I guess, over my shots."

Third-round co-leaders Yu Liu of China crashed with a 75, tied for fifth along with 36-hole leader Makimo Higa and Americans Gerina Piller and Jaye Marie Green, who had been tied for the third-round lead with Liu.

"At the moment, I feel like I just went through a breakup or something," Green said after her 74. "You feel like it's going to go in your favor, but that's golf."

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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