05 Mar 2024 | Professional golf |

Lee’s rich reward for career-best PGA TOUR finish

by Tony Webeck

Min Woo Lee Cognizant Classic
Min Woo Lee's runner-up finish at the Cognizant Classic came with a bonus start at this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational. Credit: Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

Min Woo Lee’s career-best finish on the PGA TOUR has earned the West Australian a first Signature Event start at this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Three back of American Austin Eckroat at the start of a final round of the Cognizant Classic that was forced into a Monday finish, Lee made a spirited run at his first TOUR title, at one point pulling within a stroke of Eckroat.

The reigning Australian PGA champion, Lee qualified for his first Signature Event of the season via the Aon Swing 5 that provides spots for the highest points earners from the Mexico Open and Cognizant Classic.

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Projected to climb to No.31 in the Official World Golf Ranking, the 25-year-old had finished outside the top 20 in his first three TOUR starts of 2024, after earning his card via 2023 non-member FedEx Cup points.

It will be Lee’s third consecutive appearance at Bay Hill but the first time it has offered $US20 million in prize money including $US4 million to the winner.

“It’s amazing,” said Lee, who shot 4-under 67 to finish tied at 14-under with Erik Van Rooyen (63), three back of Eckroat (67).

“I was thinking about it coming down the stretch. Obviously thinking about the win… but was a really proud moment.

“My manager Brent signed me up for that yesterday and I saw it on the e-mail. I know he tried to do it on the low, but I did see it come through the e-mail saying that I was signed up for it just in case I do … I knew that before last night that I needed to play like that.”

Lee played “like that” indeed. After completing his first seven holes of the final round Sunday in even-par before darkness fell, he was 4-under across 11 holes Monday.

Featured alongside sister Minjee Lee on the ABC’s Australian Story on Monday night, the result is also a major boost to Lee’s hopes of representing Australia at the Olympics in Paris in early August.

Photo: Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

PGA TOUR Cognizant Classic PGA National Resort & Spa (The Champion Cse), Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 1 Austin Eckroat 65-67-68-67—267 $US1.62m T2 Min Woo Lee 67-70-66-67—270 $801,000 T35 Ryan Fox (NZ) 69-68-74-65—276 $43,875 MC Aaron Baddeley 71-71—142

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