18 Jan 2024 | Professional golf |

Min Woo Lee chasing Olympic, Presidents Cup double

by Jimmy Emanuel

Min Woo Lee press conference The American Express
Min Woo Lee speaks to the media at The American Express in California. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

He’s got new clothes, a new home base and a new place to play but Min Woo Lee has more firsts in mind as he makes his debut as a PGA TOUR member this week at The American Express.

Heading out for the opening round alongside another young rising star with a Korean background in Tom Kim on Friday morning, Lee noted his desire to follow Kim’s example by making the Presidents Cup later this year.

So too representing his country at the Olympic Games in Paris.

“There’s a couple of goals, obviously the Presidents Cup for the International Team, and the Olympics are on the radar,” said Lee on the eve of his debut as a PGA TOUR member.

“A couple of those goals and just be a little bit better in my approach play would be good.

“I just wanted to make it (the Presidents Cup) a couple of years ago and felt like I just missed out by maybe a couple of people, so had a little bit of fire in my belly.“

“Just want to represent Australia, the International Team and just play some team sports.

“It’s been a while since I played in a team environment. It would be good to have a locker room and to be with guys that I really get along with.”

Noting the exciting prospect of potentially being an Olympian at the Paris Games with sister Minjee, Min Woo has been in a group environment of late as he prepares to cash in on his best year to date that sees him as the world No.37 and a fully-fledged member of the PGA TOUR.

Taking time off post his third at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open that followed a win at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship, Lee went camping in Esperance.

Back to work around Christmas, the hard work with coach Ritchie Smith began as Lee looks to win for the first time on the PGA TOUR.

“Took a few weeks off after the Aussie events, felt like I needed it. I played a lot of golf towards the end of the year, needed a bit of a break,” Lee admitted.

“Practiced with the usual fellas back home, Hayden Hopewell, Elvis Smylie has joined ‘Team Ritchie’, so he came over from Queensland to Perth, we showed him the ropes. It was nice to have another competitor around us.”

Working on his approach play that was a constant area of focus during the Aussie summer, Lee’s break also allowed him to sure up his living situation ahead of his first full year in America.

Deciding Florida might be too “chill”, Lee will take residence in Las Vegas, the 25-year-old living with 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational winner Kurt Kitayama while continuing to spend time with major winner Collin Morikawa.

“Golf is wonderful there, great golf courses, great people, great food and great entertainment,” said the two-time DP World Tour winner.

“It’s got pretty much everything. You can make it as hectic or as chill as you want, which is great.

“So while I’m young, I will probably go hang out in Vegas, enjoy my time there and then maybe move over there (Florida) later.”

Despite all the new experiences, Lee reminded he is the same old Min Woo when asked if he will keep up his highly popular social media content as a PGA TOUR member.

“I’m always doing good social content, aren’t I?”

Lee is joined by Aaron Baddeley, Cam Davis, Jason Day and Harrison Endycott at The American Express that is played in a pro-am format across La Quinta Country Club and the Pete Dye Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament courses of PGA West.

This week also marks the start to the 2024 season for Adam Scott, Jason Scrivener, Grace Kim, Rod Pampling and Mark Hensby.

Scott and Scrivener are both playing the DP World Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic, Kim starts her second LPGA Tour season at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions while Pampling and Hensby are also playing a winners-only event, the PGA TOUR Champions Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii.

Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty ImagesRound 1 tee times AEDT

Round 1 tee times AEDT

PGA TOUR The American Express PGA West, La Quinta, California La Quinta 3:41am*           Shane Lowry, Jason DayStadium Course 3:52am            Hayden Springer, Harrison Endycott 4:36am            Aaron Baddeley, Thomas DetryNicklaus Tournament 4:14am*           Andrew Putnam, Cam Davis 5:31am*           Tom Kim, Min Woo Lee

Defending champion: Jon Rahm Past Aussie winners: Bruce Devlin (1970) TV times: Live 4am-11am Friday; Live 4:45am-11am Saturday; Live 6am-11am Sunday; Live 5:45am-11am Monday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

DP World Tour Hero Dubai Desert Classic Emirates GC, Dubai, UAE 3:10pm*          Rory McIlroy, Nicolai Hojgaard, Adam Scott 6:40pm*          James Morrison, Clément Sordet, Jason Scrivener 6:50pm            Connor Syme, Daniel Hillier (NZ), Nick Bachem 7:20pm            Tommy Fleetwood, Cameron Young, Ryan Fox (NZ)

Defending champion: Rory McIlroy Past Aussie winners: Richard Green (1997), Lucas Herbert (2020) TV times: Live 3pm-12.30am Thursday, Friday; Live 7pm-12am Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

LPGA Tour Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions Lake Nona Golf and Country Club, Orlando, Florida 2:04am*           Grace Kim 2:48am            Lydia Ko (NZ)

Defending champion: Brooke Henderson Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: Live 5am-8am Friday, Saturday, Monday on Fox Sports 506 and Kayo; Live 6am-9am Sunday on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo.

Korn Ferry Tour The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, Great Abaco, Bahamas Australasians in the field: Brett Drewitt, Rhein Gibson, Curtis Luck, Dimi Papadatos

Defending champion: Ben Silverman Past Aussie winners: Nil

PGA TOUR Champions Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai Hualalai GC, Ka’upulehu-Kona, Hawaii 7:55am            Mark Hensby, Harrison Frazar, Paul Broadhurst 8:17am            Dicky Pride, Mike Weir, Rod Pampling 9:01am            Miguel Angel Jiménez, Steven Alker (NZ), Stephen Ames

Defending champion: Steve Stricker Past Aussie winners: Peter Thomson (1985), Bruce Crampton (1991) TV times: Live 11am-2pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

Results Asian Tour Qualifying School – Final Stage Springfield Royal Country Club and Lake View Resort and Golf Club, Thailand After Round 2 1          Jeunghun Wang           65-68—133 3          Sam Brazel                   69-67—136 T8        Maverick Antcliff          69-69—138 T21      Nick Voke (NZ)             65-75—140 T21      Denzel Ieremia (NZ)     70-70—140 T34      Lachlan Barker              74-68—142 T45      Peter Wilson                69-74—143 T45      Jordan Zunic                74-69—143 T45      Max Charles                 71-72—143 T45      Nathan Barbieri            70-73—143 T45      Jared Edwards (NZ)      73-70—143 T63      Lawry Flynn                  75-69—144 T63      Douglas Klein               72-72—144 T84      Shae Wools-Cobb        73-72—145 T84      Kyle Michel                   74-71—145 T84      Harrison Crowe            74-71—145 T99      Justin Warren               72-74—146 T120    Jeff Guan                      73-74—147 T138    Cam Harlock (NZ, a)    78-70—148 T138    Andre Lautee               73-75—148 MC       James Mee                   76-73—149 MC       William Bruyeres          77-73—150 MC       Jake Hughes                75-84—159

Korn Ferry Tour The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Club, Great Exuma, The Bahamas 1          Jeremy Paul                  70-67-67-67—271       $US180,000 T50      Rhein Gibson               65-78-77-68—288       $4,288 62        Brett Drewitt                71-70-81-71—293       $4,060 MC       Dimi Papadatos           80-73—153 MC       Curtis Luck                   77-82—159 DQ       John Lyras

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