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28 Nov 2023 | Australian Open |

All business as Min Woo hits Sydney

by Martin Blake

Min Woo Lee AO image
Min Woo Lee addresses media today. Photo: Brett Costello

Min Woo Lee has suddenly become one of the hottest tickets in world golf, but the young Perth superstar is hellbent on adding to his resume at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open this week.

Evidence of his maturity and commitment came as early as Sunday night, soon after he had won the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship.

He fulfilled his winners obligations and carted the trophy around for the social media shots, but he was in bed before midnight.

Then he flew to Sydney the next morning with his head clear and began preparation for this week’s national championship at The Australian and The Lakes.

Not only that, but he said he may skip going to see the singer Post Malone on Wednesday night – one of his favourite acts who he saw in Brisbane – and stick to his tournament routine this week.

The 25-year-old said he learned a lesson about over-celebrating after his win in Macau on the Asian Tour earlier this year.

“Again, work to do this week,” he said today. “My win in Macau I kind of learnt from. I went pretty hard after that win and had Zozo (Championship) the week after, so I thought I didn’t get the best preparation for that week, so I’m learning from those experiences.

"I just had a, I’ll say medium, not quiet, not massive, just right in the middle. Good enough to celebrate but not enough for a hangover, so right in between, and again, ready for this week.”

Lee already has a connection with the public that goes beyond the ordinary; Sunday’s events at Royal Queensland, and especially his chip-in midway through the round and full fist-pumping celebration, only added to his growing fame.

So did his donning of a chef’s hat at the 17th, the party hole at Royal Queensland, channeling his Instagram line of ‘let’s Cook’.

The hat act wasn’t planned.

But he’ll run with it anyway, as you do when you have 364,000 Insta followers.

“I still have to ask my caddie where he got the chef hat on 17 because … I told him before the hole ‘chuck me some balls, I’m going to throw them out after the hole’s done’. And then he gives me the chef’s hat, and I’m like, ‘I’m not wearing this’, and he’s like, ‘go on, wear it’.

“So I ended up wearing it. But it was a shock to me, I didn’t know that it was happening. So, I’ve still got to ask him when he got it.”

Lee has a bit of history at The Australian, which will host the final two rounds this week. Back as far as 2016 he played alongside Jordan Spieth here when Spieth won.

“I was 17 years old, so it was unreal,” he said. “I played with him on the Saturday, obviously when school was done and all the kids got out and the fairways were filled with so many people.

"I didn’t end up playing that good, but it was definitely an experience I can look back on and kind of got caught up in all of it, and as a 17-year-old, you don’t have that big of a crowd, so I really loved that moment and now that I get to play with Jordan, it’s pretty cool, week in, week out.

“I know The Australian golf course is tough, which is probably better for me. I like pretty tough courses, or if it’s easy, it’s nice and easy and I’m playing good golf. So, both of them can help. I’m hitting the ball really well now.”

Lee is now No. 38 in the world and has his sights set on the Olympics in Paris next year. Currently he sits behind Cameron Smith and Jason Day among Australian men in the slot for Games, but he can address that quickly with a win this week.

Of course, he’ll be only one of the two members of his family playing, with Minjee Lee teeing it up as well and chasing her first Australian Open win.

“I get a little pissed off when she wins the week after, because I got the light on me for a little bit and then four days later or like a week later, she’s holding a trophy,” he said.

“We’re happy for each other. We want to only do well and inspire kids and keep playing good golf, so it’s not that bad of a sibling rivalry, but a little petty, from me usually.”

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