13 Oct 2022 | Australian Open |
Lee siblings ramp up banter for Melbourne reunion
by Dane Heverin
Australia’s best sporting siblings, two-time major champion Minjee and two-time DP World Tour winner Min Woo Lee, are already taking their friendly rivalry up a notch ahead of the ISPS HANDA Australian Open from December 1-4.
The siblings from Perth have regularly poked and prodded one another as they have risen to stardom in recent years and upon announcing that they are confirmed starters for the historic first mixed-gender Open at Victoria and Kingston Heath Golf Clubs, they were back at it.
“She’s the favourite and I’m not the favourite so she’s got more to lose I guess,” Min Woo said with a laugh.
“Once he wins a US Open he can take the bragging rights,” World No.3 Minjee quipped back.
The fact Minjee was in Perth, for some rest and recovery before heading to the LPGA’s BMW Ladies Championship in Korea next week, during Wednesday’s announcement, while Min Woo dialled in from Spain ahead of his next DP World Tour assignment mattered little when it came to the speed at which they were able to direct remarks at each other.
They are well-rehearsed at it now with the pandemic and the travelling schedules of professional golfers making Lee family get togethers a rarity in recent years.
That is why the national open will be extra special for them.
“To have each other present will give us some motivation,” Min Woo said.
“It’s always nice to have family there and we’ll just enjoy it and have fun. Although we do want to win and we do want to play well, I think it’s just nice to bring the family back together because we don’t spend that much time together.”
The Lees intend to all stay together in Melbourne for the week with their parents - who will take time away from running their cafe where both Minjee and Min Woo’s trophies have proudly been on display at various times - and their grandmother coming along for the ride.
“I’m not going to see Min Woo’s face,” Minjee said with a laugh.
“No I’m joking, we’ll spend much more time together. We may even play a practice round together but I’m not sure if Min Woo wants to play with me.
“I’m sure we’ll have dinners and catch up. I haven’t seen him for the second half of the year so it’ll just be nice to spend time with everybody all together.”
Playing together will not be a possibility during the tournament itself because the men and women will play in separate groups, however the siblings have their eyes on the next best thing.
“If we play back-to-back groups, we’ll get a pretty nice crowd,” Minjee said. “People will be going backward and forward watching the guys and the girls so that’ll be a great experience for the fans coming out.”
“Our Mum, dad and grandma can be watching both groups at once,” Min Woo said.
“Hopefully I get more of a crowd than Minjee but I don’t think that will happen.”
A group of Min Woo’s friends from Perth are coming across for the week to help him fulfil that wish, but Minjee is more focused on learning from their only previous experience playing in groups close together - when Min Woo won the Vic Open in 2020.
“I was kind of looking at scores back and forth and probably wasn’t as focused on playing my own game,” she said. “That was the only time we’ve sort of played in close groups.”
Neither sibling has won their national crown previously despite Minjee coming close on multiple occasions including a best finish of tied third at Royal Adelaide in 2017.
Before they can turn their attention solely to Melbourne, the Lees have some big challenges to complete.
Minjee is currently leading the LPGA Tour’s money list and the Race to CME Globe points race - where the end of season champion takes home US $2 million for the year - with four tournaments remaining for the season.
She is also within reach of the World No.1 ranking, while Min Woo is looking to play his way into the top-50 on the DP World Tour rankings to earn a place at the lucrative DP World Tour Championship in Dubai next month - he is presently 62nd on the standings.
“I’m still trying to take back the throne,” he said.
“I feel a good end of the year is coming so I’m going to try my best. If I could be anywhere near Minjee’s level of success, I’d be pretty happy.”
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