26 Oct 2020 | Professional golf |
Lee makes winning a habit
by Mark Hayes
It took Won Joon Lee 13 years to nail down his first professional victory, but he’s getting the taste for it now.
The Korean-based Sydneysider celebrated his 35th birthday on Friday with a second win on the KPGA Tour yesterday, saluting at the Bizplay Open on the southern island of Jeju.
Lee pocketed nearly $125,000 for his trouble, but more importantly rose to fifth on the tour’s order of merit. Interestingly, he has now secured the “rookie of the year” title in his first year playing enough on the KPGA Tour to qualify as a full member.
The Japan tour regular opened the final round with a three-shot lead over Seunghyuk Kim at Tameus Country Club, the event having been reduced to 54 holes when strong winds forced round two to be abandoned.
Lee said he felt “more relaxed” than before his breakthrough win in the KPGA Championship last year.
But he was adamant he wouldn’t play defensively to keep that hard-won edge.
“The tee shot I hit on the second hole probably settled the nerves,” he said.
“(It’s a) 309m par-4 and I hit driver to about 10 feet and two-putted for birdie.
“But the tactics remained the same throughout the round – I had someone close on my heels, so I knew I couldn’t let up.”
A second birdie followed on the fourth, but a key moment happened on the fifth after Lee blazed his drive way right.
“(My) tee shot went right of the fairway, got a big bounce and went through the trees over to the next hole,” Lee said.
“I didn’t have a great look, but I had to hit a high hook (about 20m) up and around trees into a left-to-right wind.
“I hit the exact shot I wanted to (and it went to) about 30 feet and I holed the putt.”
Another birdie on the short seventh eased Lee’s burden, but by the time he made two more on the 10th and 11th holes, he was in cruise control.
“It did feel different to my first win. I felt more relaxed and in control of my game – I wasn’t really thinking about trying to win, more so trying to play the way I know I can play.”
A stumble on the 14th was erased by a closing birdie for a spectacular 66 to leave him at 14 under and a three-shot winner.
Lee said he felt completely at ease in terms of Covid-19 safety in Korea, having left Sydney shortly before borders closed in March.
“The KPGA Tour and the Korean government have done a great job in making everyone feel safe.
“Life in Korea doesn’t really feel like we are consumed by the Covid crisis. Everyone here wears masks and we go through a lot of check points at golf events and players have been required to take two tests,” said Lee, who’s unsure when he’ll be home because of travel restrictions.
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