21 Oct 2021 | Professional golf |
Lee commits to home tour
by PGA of Australia
By Tony Webeck
He has the golf world at his feet but rising star Min Woo Lee has reaffirmed his commitment to playing regularly on his home tour.
Now ranked No.55 in the world following his runner-up finish at the Andalucia Masters in Spain last week, the 23-year-old is close to being able to write his own ticket to golf’s showpiece events.
If he can climb into the top 50 by year’s end Lee will be in line to receive an invitation to The Masters at Augusta National and he has almost certainly secured exemption into next year’s Open Championship at St Andrews by virtue of his top-10 position on the European Tour moneylist.
A top-50 world ranking would also open the door to play regularly on the PGA Tour yet the Perth native – whose last start on home soil was a victory at the ISPS HANDA Vic Open in February 2020 – says the top events on the PGA Tour of Australasia will remain a priority in his schedule.
“If the big tournaments are there I’m going to play,” confirmed Lee, who is currently enjoying a short break in Las Vegas.
“Right now with all the COVID stuff, getting home wasn’t the priority, playing overseas and getting good results was.
“Playing back home, I would love to recreate a big (Australian) Open and recreate playing in front of Australian fans.
“I’m definitely keen to get back home just because I haven’t been back in six months now, so that’s a very long time for me.”
Lee’s commitment to the Australasian Tour and his growing status in world golf is welcome news for Aussie golf fans who have been unable to see our best players on home soil since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The younger brother of Australia’s latest major champion, Minjee Lee, Lee’s ascension to the elite of world golf has been both expected and sudden.
Following his first event of 2021 the Royal Fremantle product was ranked 185th in the Official World Golf Rankings, fell to 252nd on the back of five missed cuts in nine starts and no top-20 finishes but began to turn things around with a tie for 17th at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
A week later he was the Scottish Open champion and ranked the 61st player in the world.
By merely qualifying for the DP World Tour Championship next month Lee is in an excellent position to achieve a top-50 position by year’s end but refuses to let his mind drift to the opportunities such a ranking would bring.
“It was definitely a target, but it doesn’t pop into your head until obviously after I won Scottish Open and I was in the 60th range,” said Lee.
“Yes, it’s awesome to talk about that and goals and stuff, but you’ve still got to go out and do the work.
“I’m not really going to get too caught up in it now. I mean, yes, be proud of the achievements and that, but there’s still work to do in the next few weeks.
“Then we can talk about it.”
While his victory at The Renaissance Club and runner-up finish at famed Valderrama have driven his rankings surge, Lee and coach Ritchie Smith have derived just as much satisfaction from the consistency of his performances.
In 15 starts on the European Tour in 2020 Lee missed nine cuts but in his past 11 appearances dating back to the BMW International Open in June has had the weekend off just twice.
“Obviously winning and coming second doesn’t come that often but the one thing that Ritchie and I are very proud of is we’re making a lot more cuts than what I have in the past,” he added.
“It’s weird because every couple weeks I miss a cut and I’ve got the Saturday and Sunday off but now we’re talking about practice schedules and it’s completely different because I’m making a lot of cuts.
“That’s been different because you travel on Monday and you don’t have much time to prep but it’s been good.”
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