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The Korean superstar's new journey

February 10, 2019

Korean superstar Jeongeun Lee6 will make her debut as an LPGA tour member at The Grange for the 2019 Women's Australian Open.

There is no denying Lee is one of the most exciting players to have ever joined the LPGA tour.

The 22-year-old has had a dominant three year career on the Korean LPGA Tour (KLPGA) which started by winning the 2016 Rookie of the Year. A year later she took home the prestigious Player of the Year along with the Official Money List Winner Award in 2017 and 2018.

Last season Lee set a KLPGA tour record as the only player to have ever recorded a sub-70 scoring average in two separate seasons, with a 69.80 (2017) and 69.87 (2018). 

During September 2017, she scored the lowest round in KLPGA history, with an incredible 60 in the second round of the OK Savings Bank Invitational.    

In Korea family names can be quite common so Lee has put a distinctive number six at the end of her name. 

The decision to add a '6' was due to the fact she is the sixth player to have registered her name on the Korean LPGA Tour (KLPGA) with only two Jeongeun Lee's currently still playing, number five and number six. 

Back in October, Lee earned her LPGA card after a scintillating 18-under par win in the LPGA Qualifying Series in October - a grueling eight round event over two weeks.

She has six career victories to her name and 28 top-tens over the last two years and seems primed to take on the LPGA's best.

But the modest Lee would like to keep things 'low-key' going into her LPGA rookie-season knowing the lifestyle change outside of Korea will be a challenge.

"This is going to be a new journey for me," Lee told Our Sporting Life SA.

"It would be difficult for me to bring my KLPGA form to the LPGA this season because the vibes and environments are different.

"For instance, all the courses are very new to me and I just got a new caddie. 

"My goal is to keep it low-key and I just want to make the cut in every tournament.

Lee completed 33 tournaments before her break-through victory, then during her next 28 starts she finished inside the top-ten 20 times, including four wins and a tie for fifth at the 2017 US Open.

During 2018, Lee had at least one tour start on the LPGA, KLPGA, Japan's LPGA Tour, China's LPGA and the Ladies European Tour and finished outside the top-20 just three times, with two wins and 10 top-ten finishes. 

Over the last two years the Korean has had eight starts on the LPGA as a non-member, with a T5, T6, T14, T16, T16, T17, 52nd and one missed cut - quite an impressive record.

The LPGA's Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year is an award that is already on the mind of Lee and if she happens to win the award she will become the fifth Korean in-a-row to be presented the trophy. 

Players such as Jin Young Ko (2018), Sung Hyun Park (2017), In Gee Chun (2016) and Sei Young Kim (2015) have all had impressive starts to their LPGA careers, in fact a Korean player has won this award seven times in the past ten years.

"My goal is to play well consistently in every tournament as best as I can," Lee said.   

"I want to earn my rookie points as much I can and reach my goal ranking.

"I have been focusing on preparing for all the LPGA tournaments and trying to get used to my new routine as much I can. 

People that have witnessed Lee play will notice her unique routine of reading the greens by crouching perpendicular to the line before her putts.

It's a technique she tried after a friend gave her the idea and she has not changed it since then.

She believes her unusual way assists her in judging the line to the hole rather than adopting the more orthodox way of reading the grass from front on to the line. 

"It is very helpful reading the green in every each sides," Lee explained. 

"I can assume how far the length is and when the green is fast or slow. 

One of Lee's major strengths on the course is her putting having ranked third for putting average in 2018. 

Professional caddy Dean Herden - who was holding the bag for last year's Australian Open winner Jin Young Ko - says Lee has one of the best putting setups that he has ever seen.

"Her angles are awesome over the ball," Herden said.

"It's one of the best setups I have ever seen, she has great posture over the ball."

Over the recent off-season Lee had an enjoyable three weeks without any practice and spent the valuable time relaxing with her close friends.

"I have been meeting with my friends and I am glad that I did because I have not seen them for a while," she concluded.

"I had a good memory spending time with them." 

She will make her first visit to Adelaide for the Australian Open at The Grange Golf Club from February 14-17 and it will come as no surprise to see her high on the leaderboard come the final day of the event.

 

Image- Bravo & New and Andrew Frackowski

 

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