01 Dec 2021 | Professional golf |
Lee fulfils top-50 dream
by Dane Heverin
Min Woo Lee has entered the top-50 in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time and the 23-year-old revealed on the Australian Golf Show the unique way he uncovered the career milestone.
“I kind of knew that it might happen this week because there’s a man or woman on Twitter that is kind of a ranking guru and they told me that I’m heading that way,” Lee said.
Despite being stuck in hotel quarantine in Perth - Lee returned home following the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai nearly two weeks ago - the West Australian jumped up two places to 49th in the world rankings.
“It’s very exciting and it’s not until it happened that I was like ‘woah’. Six months ago I wasn’t even close to looking at the top-50,” he said.
“The last six months have been pretty quick, a lot of good golf in between, and this is the result of it. It’s been a dream of mine to get into the top-50.”
The 2020 Vic Open winner’s dream materialised at rapid pace after his ranking slipped out to 252nd in the world - he finished 2020 ranked 172nd - at the halfway mark of this year.
He began the 2021 European Tour season with four missed cuts and battled to find the best way to handle life on tour during the pandemic.
“Travelling at such a young age you have to realise that things aren’t always going to go your way and you need to find the positive side in everything,” he said.
“I really needed to find a way to keep happy and also be in the moment. It was tough to just play golf and go to the hotel and not be able to go out of the hotel.
“I was struggling quite a bit because I couldn’t get into the zone and there’s no one’s energy to feed off.”
It was no coincidence that Lee’s fortunes began to turn in front of vibrant crowds at the Irish Open - won by compatriot Lucas Herbert - where he recorded his first top-20 finish of the year and it pathed the way for the following week’s breakthrough Scottish Open victory.
His playoff triumph over Thomas Detry and Matt Fitzpatrick at the Renaissance Club catapulted him to 61st in the world rankings off the back of the hardship experienced in the previous twelve months.
“It only made me stronger and mentally stronger too. Whatever curve ball they throw at me I can try to stay happy and enjoy the times that I’m in,” he said.
Three more top-10 finishes rounded out the remainder of the year as Lee found his “groove” and ran with it.
“I don’t know what clicked, but my swing was awesome. I had a lot of control with my golf ball and I didn’t hit many bad shots. I knew where the ball was going and even if I did hit a bad shot I still managed to score,” he said.
“My putting sometimes isn’t always up to scratch, but when it is - which it has been up until last week - it's been very solid. I nearly chip-in once a round - I don’t think it’s an official stat - but I feel like it’s about one every two or three rounds.
“I’m maturing as well. I still get mad - there’s a little fire in me - but I don’t let it affect the next shot. I try to swipe it away and hit the next shot.”
That is the temperament required to perform well at majors and Lee has the chance to implement it at the Open Championship, US Open and PGA Championship next year.
He may also be in the field at Augusta National next April, however he must finish the year inside the world top-50 to guarantee his place.
“I didn’t want to say anything about The Masters when I posted online because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. Just to get into the top-50 was a milestone for me,” he said.
“If I do get out of it at the end of the year, I still cracked it and that’s an awesome achievement.
“If I stay in I will be playing more in America next year. You’ve obviously got all the majors and all the WGCs - they all might not happen, there’s only one in the schedule compared to the four or five that used to be there - and invitations on the PGA Tour.
“If I get the chance to, I'll play more on the PGA Tour.”
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