23 Feb 2023 | Professional golf |
Aussies on Tour: Lee launches new campaign in Thailand
by Dane Heverin
A refreshed and recharged Minjee Lee will tee it up on the LPGA Tour for the first time this year at the Honda LPGA Thailand after a much-needed break back home.
The world No. 3 ran out of steam in the back half of 2022 following an energy-sapping campaign that included her US Women’s Open triumph and her taking out the Annika Major Award for the best player in the five women’s majors for the year.
To recoup she enjoyed time at home in Perth, a trip to Tasmania and attended Lydia Ko’s wedding in South Korea and the time away from golf has taught her an important lesson ahead of targeting more major titles and the world no. 1 ranking.
“Two (majors) is kind of my goal. I think most of my goals revolve around the majors now, and they're probably right up the top of my priority list,” Lee said.
“But I think also one of my big goals is not to be too tired by the end of the year. I want to pace myself throughout the year and be happy. I think if I'm happy, I'm happy on the golf course as well.
“So, yeah, obviously golf-wise, majors are a big goal, and world No. 1 is at the back of my head.”
No Australian has ever topped the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
The rankings were introduced in 2006 and seven-time major champion Karrie Webb was never able to ascend to the top spot, so the chance to become the first of her countrywomen to reach the game’s summit is spurring Lee on.
“To me, probably means everything at the moment. You know, I've been close a couple times, and because I wanted it so much it hurts to not be able to be in that position,” she said.
“So, you know, obviously I don't know what it entails because I haven't been there before, but I think if I keep going through my processes in my golf game and just stick to what I know and what I'm good at, then I know that playing good golf, that's like the result of it.
“So I'm going to try not to put too much pressure on myself.”
Fellow major champion Hannah Green is the only other Australian in the field after she began her year with a missed cut at the Ladies European Tour’s Aramco Saudi Ladies International.
Lee’s younger brother Min Woo is returning to the PGA Tour this week for the first time since the DP World Tour co-sanctioned Genesis Scottish Open last July as he looks to overcome the disappointment of seven missed cuts from seven starts on the US Tour last year.
The 24-year-old heads to Florida for The Honda Classic full of confidence however, following a brilliant run in the past five months on the DP World Tour off the back of impressive performances at The Masters, US Open and The Open last year.
Since October, Lee has registered six top-five finishes from eight starts with a worst result of tied 13th at last month’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
A good result will also help Lee’s chances of securing another chance to play Augusta National – where he shot 30 on the front nine on Sunday last year – as he is currently ranked No. 47 in the world and needs to remain inside the top 50 as of April 2 to be invited.
Meanwhile, Anthony Quayle – who came tied 15th at the 150th Open at St Andrews last year – leads the Australian charge on the DP World Tour this week which heads to New Delhi for the Hero Indian Open.
The 150th Open champion Cameron Smith is back in action this week as the LIV Golf League plays its first tournament for the year in Mexico. Smith captains the renamed All Australian team Ripper GC with Marc Leishman, Jed Morgan and Matt Jones as teammates.
Round One tee times AEDT
Honda LPGA Thailand
Siam Country Club (Pattaya Old Course), Chonburi, Thailand
1.48pm Lydia Ko (NZ), Nasa Hataoka, Patty Tavatanakit
2.00pm Minjee Lee, Nelly Korda, Atthaya Thitikul
2.12pm Hannah Green, Charley Hull, Stacy Lewis
Defending champion: Nanna Koerstz Madsen
Past Aussie winners: Nil
Top Aussie prediction: Minjee Lee
TV times: Live 2pm-7pm Thursday; Live 3pm-7pm Friday; Live 2.30pm-7.30pm Saturday; Live 4.30pm-7.30pm Sunday on Fox Sports 503.
The Honda Classic
PGA National Resort (The Champion), Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
12.07am* Geoff Ogilvy, Jonas Blixt, Zac Blair
12.18am Greg Chalmers, Chesson Hadley, Max McGreevy
12.51am* Brett Drewitt, Andrew Novak, Tano Goya
3.56am Min Woo Lee, Satoshi Kodaira, Bill Haas
4.07am* Cameron Percy, Michael Kim, Cody Gribble
4.40am Cam Davis, Erik van Rooyen, Harris English
5.02am Aaron Baddeley,Brandon Wu, Callum Tarren
5.13am Harrison Endycott, Brent Grant, Kevin Roy
Defending champion: Sepp Straka
Past Aussie winners: Matt Jones (2021), Adam Scott (2016), Stuart Appleby (1997)
Top Aussie prediction: Min Woo Lee
TV times: Live 6am-10am Friday, Saturday; Live 5am-10am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503.
DP World Tour
Hero Indian Open
DLF Golf & Country Club, New Delhi, India
12.35pm* Anthony Quayle, Gunner Wiebe, Jamal Hossain
1.50pm Blake Windred, Gary Stal, Honey Baisoya
5.00pm* Maverick Antcliff, Jens Fahrbring, Joel Stalter
5.25pm Daniel Hillier (NZ), Santiago Tarrio, S Chikkarangappa
6.20pm* Daniel Gale, Gudmundur Kristjansson, Aguri Iwasaki
Defending champion: Stephen Gallacher
Past Aussie winners: Nil
Top Aussies prediction: Anthony Quayle
TV times: Live 7pm-11.30pm Thursday, Friday; Live 7.30pm-10.30pm Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 503.
LIV Golf League
El Camaleón Golf Course, Mayakoba, Mexico
Australasians in the field: Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman, Jed Morgan, Matt Jones, Danny Lee (NZ)
Defending champion: Inaugural event
Top Aussie prediction: Cameron Smith
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