At just 25, Minjee Lee is the experienced campaigner of the four-strong Australian Olympic golf team headed to Tokyo next month. But first, Lee will take part in another team event this week as a captain of the Aramco Team Series – London.
Lee is in London for the event that owns Ladies European Tour status and includes major winners Lexi Thompson, Georgia Hall, Catriona Matthew and Anna Nordqvist in a field also featuring Charley Hull and Anne Van Dam.
Played at the impressive Centurion Club in Hertfordshire, the Aramco Team Series – London incorporates an individual 54-hole stroke play event and teams event, with teams made up of three professionals and one amateur put together in a draft conducted by team captains.
“I guess that there’s two bits to it, there’s like an individual and a team format. I think the team format is certainly something different and something much more exciting that what we usually have,” Lee said. “I just think it would be really cool to be in a group setting. Obviously with an amateur it will feel really relaxed, so really looking forward to it.”
Playing for a total prize purse of US$1million, the relaxed atmosphere of the event and team aspect makes for an interesting lead-up to the year’s fourth major championship in women’s golf for Lee, who will also tee it up in another teams event next week on the LPGA Tour. The West Australian will then head to France for the Evian Championship.
Lee’s Olympic teammate Hannah Green is a notable absence from all the above mentioned fields as she completes her two-week quarantine in Australia before some time at home in Perth in the lead-up to the Games.
The two varied approaches to representing their country in Tokyo is perhaps unsurprising given the nature of the Olympic competition.
As was the case in Rio, the golf competition will be an individual 72-hole stroke play event, with Lee’s experience at that Games meaning she doesn’t believe she will have much advice for Green, or the men’s representatives Marc Leishman and Cam Smith.
“You know it’s kind of different because you’re in the team together, but it’s very individual. You know, it’s just like a regular tournament,” Lee said. “For advice, I don’t really have anything because it’s pretty much just what you do every week.”
Despite the understandable admission that she will mostly leave her fellow Olympians to their own devices come the first weeks of August, one thing is certain, Lee will be hoping to continue the recent run of success of Australian golfers. Starting this week in London.
Lee is joined by last week’s LET winner Steph Kyriacou at Centurion, with Whitney Hillier and Victoria Fricot rounding out the Australian contingent.
Kyriacou, part of a trio of professional wins around the world for our players last week, was runner-up in the trial of this format last year, the Saudi Ladies International, in both the individual and teams race.
And whilst Lee will surely have taken inspiration from her compatriots last week and has a busy few weeks ahead of her, it is hard to imagine her thoughts aren’t beginning to drift towards achieving something no Australian ever has: an Olympic medal in golf.
“I think it’s the highest honour you can have really, to represent your country at, you know, the biggest Games, the Olympic Games,” she said. “It’s just really humbling to be in the Olympic team again, and I’m just really looking forward to another great experience.”
For our detailed Olympic preview, including exclusive interviews with Hannah Green and team captain Ian Baker-Finch, pick up a copy of the August issue of Golf Australia on sale next week, and for more information on Team Up and the Aramco Team Series – London, visit www.aramcoteamseries.com