Spotlight not blinding Aussie Min Woo Lee

Ed Jackson |

Min Woo Lee doesn’t mind being the star billing at the Australian PGA Championship in Brisbane.
Min Woo Lee doesn’t mind being the star billing at the Australian PGA Championship in Brisbane.

Min Woo Lee has no fear of being the headline act for this week’s Australian PGA Championship in Brisbane.

Lee rocketed from 252nd in the rankings in June to world No.51 after winning the Scottish Open last year, cracking the top 50 in time to earn an invitation to this year’s Masters.

The preparation for his first trip to Augusta National starts at Royal Queensland Golf Club, where the 23-year-old is the favourite to claim the Joe Kirkwood Cup.

It’s been just over two years since Adam Scott lifted the trophy on the Gold Coast in late 2019, with the global COVID pandemic wrecking last summer’s Australian golf swing.

Ongoing travel restrictions mean Scott and other big names such as Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman will not play in this week’s tournament, giving Lee star billing for the event.

It’s a situation he is confident he’ll relish, claiming it bears similarities to his maiden professional win at the 2020 Vic Open when he beat an under-strength field for a two-shot tournament victory.

“I feel like at Vic Open I kind of had that feel of being a high-ranked player,” Lee said.

“Hopefully the crowds are going to be awesome and out there and cheering me on.

“That’s a big advantage but I’m just going to go out there and play.

“Hopefully I do play well and get the year rolling.”

Two-time Australian PGA Championship winner Smith’s record-breaking victory at the US PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions on Monday has provided Lee with plenty of inspiration heading into this week’s tournament.

He wants to emulate Smith and follow his path in becoming a US PGA Tour card holder and also join major-winning sister Minjee in the US.

“He’s been playing so good since he’s been on the PGA Tour and that’s probably the perfect way to be a top-10 player in the world,” Lee said of Smith.

“Every year, just keep putting pressure on the results and just winning every now and then a couple times a year.

“It’s awesome to see, so hopefully I can do the same thing but he’s done a really good job.”

Lee and the rest of the field will tee off on Thursday at the start of the Australian PGA Championship.