04 Aug 2021 | Professional golf |

Key lesson Lee took from 2016 Olympic debut

by PGA of Australia

Minjee Lee on the practice range in Tokyo.

By Tony Webeck

When she tees off on Wednesday morning Minjee Lee will create history as Australia’s first two-time Olympic golfer but it is the lessons she took from Rio de Janeiro in 2016 that the West Australian intends to employ to become our first golf gold medallist.

Ranked No.7 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Lee has spent the past week celebrating her maiden major triumph at the Evian Championship and revelling in the relief of shrugging that monkey off her back.

Lee was a 20-year-old two-time LPGA Tour winner when she teamed up with Su Oh to represent Australia at the 2016 Olympic Games, shooting 67 in the final round to finish tied for seventh.

Now, with that experience, her first major and five additional tournament wins, Lee is focused on a fast start in her quest for gold.

“I just think that with the Olympics you need to get off to a fast start,” said Lee, who opened with a round of 69 to be tied for 11th after Round 1 in Rio.

“For some reason I feel like last time in Rio I sort of just like slowly built up until the last round.

“Hopefully this time around I can start off with a good score and then just kind of build on from there.”

Not only is Lee buoyed with the confidence that comes from a win in her last start but she is now free of the expectation to win a major that has followed her in recent years.

In a warning to her rivals at Kasumigaseki Country Club this week, Lee believes she is in the best place in her career to play well.

“I’m probably in the best place that I’ve been in terms of golf and mentally,” said Lee. “I’m in a really good place coming off the major championship.

“It was nice to have a week off to see my brother and just kind of regroup.

“I’m just really excited to be here. We have such a great team with us and it’s been a lot of fun so far and just really looking forward to getting tournament started.

“I can only really prepare for that first shot of the tournament so I'm just going to go in with a positive attitude and play to the best of my ability and do whatever I can control.

“Hopefully it's a good week for me.”

Although her own preparation has been disrupted by the wet weather experienced in Perth the past month, Hannah Green is carrying confidence of her own.

The 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA champion has three top-five finishes on the LPGA Tour already this season and gives Team Australia two genuine medal contenders.

“We're both in form, I think we have a great chance,” Green added.

“Minjee obviously won in her last event and I feel like my game is as good as it has been, I just need to make sure that I can score.

“I don't see why we can't have a good week. We're looking forward to it.”

 

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