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Minjee in Karrie's footsteps and loves number one

January 24, 2016

At 19, the dynamic Minjee Lee become the number one ranked women's golfer in Australia.

As the talented youngster prepares for the Australian Open next month in Adelaide her future ambitions are to become more than just her country's number one ranked player.

"I'm very honoured to be the top ranked female in Australia," Lee explained. 

"But I think everyone's goal is to be the number one player in the world someday. 

"It’s always a goal of any athlete that enters the world of sport.

"I’ll always be working towards that ultimate title so hopefully one day I can be world number one."

The talented youngster's ultimate goal is to be inducted in the world golf Hall of Fame alongside a mentor of hers, Australian great Karrie Webb.

"Following in the footsteps of the likes of Karrie Webb is such a great feeling and because she is such a great mentor to me personally means a lot," the world's number 18 ranked player said. 

"My ultimate goal in my career is to be in the Hall of Fame.

"I’ve always wanted to be in the Hall of Fame since I was young and to be in it with such great players such as Juli Inkster, Webby and Annika Sorenstam would be amazing."

Lee turned professional in September 2014 after leading the Australian team to victory at the Amateur Team Championship in Japan.

She won the Australian Women's Amateur in 2013 and defended her title the following year. 

After winning the Victorian Open on the ALPG Tour as an amateur in 2014, Australia best women’s golfer ever, Karrie Webb expressed her thoughts on the Perth youngster.

"She was the number one amateur in the world before she turned pro.

“She has loads of talent and is a very confident young woman."

When watching Lee on the course, you notice the calmness and relaxed state she plays in, nothing seems to fluster her.  

"Every golfer feels nerves on the golf course-whether it’s on the first tee or coming down the stretch," The former Methodist Ladies College student said. 

"I’m normally a pretty relaxed person so I don’t get too nervous in general but to help keep me relaxed; my caddy and I talk about funny stories or normally things that keep my mind off golf, like food!" 

Last year Lee finished tied for ninth in the British Open at Turnberry which is one of Lee's favourite courses throughout the world. 

"That course is one of my new favourites," she said. 

"Because of the great history of that golf course and because I enjoy playing links golf mainly because you have to use your imagination." 

Lee also tied for 13th in the Women's PGA Championship but she considers her first LPGA win, the Kingsmill Championship back in May to be the finest in her career.

"The Kingsmill Championship was definitely my career highlight and my first win on the LPGA Tour," she said. 

"That was a very special moment for me." 

Between the ages of eight and nine Lee enjoyed swimming for almost three years before she made the decision to focus on her golf career when she was 10 years old.

Along with younger 17 year old brother Minwoo, who is also aspiring to become a professional golfer, Minjee says the talent runs in the family under the expertise of her parents Soonam (dad) and Clara (mum).

"My whole family enjoys playing golf and we’ve always grown up around the game," Lee explained.

"Mum introduced me to the game, she is a golf instructor but she has been travelling with me so put that on hold for now. My dad plays for fun regularly at home and Minwoo plays competitively interstate and internationally. 

"I think talent runs in the family because both my parents have grown up around sport especially golf," Lee said.

"Dad was also a swimming instructor so I have always been around the influence of sport and have always been guided by my parents throughout my career; both mental and physical skills."

With her parents both great mentors for her, Lee considers they have been the biggest influence on her career along with her coach Ritchie Smith.

"My Parents have been my biggest supporters throughout my whole career," Lee continued. 

"Always cheering for me no matter what.

“Also, most importantly they taught me to be disciplined and dedicated to everything I do in my life, especially golf. 

"My coach Ritchie, he’s helped me to develop my swing and helped me become the golfer I am today. 

"He always gives me that little added confidence because ultimately your coach believes in you when you have even the smallest of doubts about your game. 

During the winter months Lee is also a keen AFL supporter admitting she was destined to be a Fremantle fan.

"I go for the Fremantle Dockers," Lee said. 

"I was always set to be a Freo girl, because obviously I’m from Royal Fremantle Golf Club."

For now Lee is putting in the hard training yards for the upcoming Australian Open at Grange Golf Course less than four weeks away.

The Grange Course is significant for Lee as she was a winner in the 2014 Australian Amateur but this was on the Grange East Course, she has however played the one round on the West Course which will be where the tournament is hosted as she looks forward to the national event.

"Yes, most definitely it's always a treat being back in your home country to play the national championship," Lee said.

One thing people may not know about Lee is that she only plays with certain numbered golf balls. 

"I’m not very superstitious normally but I only play with Number 1 golf balls."

 

Lee will be in Adelaide on February 18-22 to compete in the Australian Open at Grange Golf Club west course.

 

Photo credit: Golf Australia

 

 

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