The Australian summer of golf has added another string to its bow with Min Woo Lee confirmed this morning as heading back to Royal Queensland for the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship.
The star player in the field when the event was played in early 2022, Lee finished in share of fourth behind runaway winner Jed Morgan and will return having experienced plenty of golf on the game’s biggest stages.
“Royal Queensland is obviously a nice track that I enjoy. I’ve got a bit of revenge, I guess, I want to go back and putt a little bit better, I actually hit it really good that week," Lee told a group of Australian reporters this morning from Perth.
"I did learn a little bit how to play on grainy greens, so I will go back and try and putt a little bit better. I am really excited, Queensland’s a nice place and I love going back there and especially the Aussie crowd. That’s something you can’t really buy and such a good experience."
Playing all four majors this year, the West Australian made the cut at The Masters (T14), the US Open (T27) and The Open Championship (T21) in what were rare bright spots among a number of missed cuts when spending the majority of his time in America playing on sponsors exemptions.
RIGHT: Min Woo was fourth in January when the postponed 2021 Fortinet Australian PGA took place In Queensland. PHOTO: Chris Hyde/Getty Images.
Prior to heading to The Old Course, Lee missed the cut as the defending champion of the Scottish Open, this year co-sanctioned by the PGA and DP World Tours, but knows he is still learning his craft as a professional golfer. And is still considering whether he will tee it up at the Australian Open.
“The majors are why you play golf. It’s like the Aussie crowd at the Aussie PGA, it is pretty hectic, there are so many people around. Breaks are needed, you don’t want to be too bombarded with just golf," he said. "You need to have a good balance of golf and chilling out. When I have a break that big I love to go home and hang out with my friends and family."
Part of his learning process has been a budding friendship with Adam Scott who he has played practice rounds with and regularly sat down for meals with, while he joked that Scott’s fellow Queenslander and now major champion Cam Smith was not so good when it came to getting together for a hit.
“I am not really that good friends with Cam, I see him now and then. He likes to do his own stuff. I am probably better friends with Adam Scott," Lee said. "I don’t really see Cam too much around the golf course. I try and play a practice round with him now and then, but sometimes he doesn’t reply, he’s not too good at text messaging on his phone."
“Royal Queensland is obviously a nice track that I enjoy. I’ve got a bit of revenge, I guess, I want to go back and putt a little bit better, I actually hit it really good that week ... I am really excited, Queensland’s a nice place and I love going back there and especially the Aussie crowd." - Min Woo Lee.
After a successful move to Royal Queensland from the Gold Coast earlier this year, the tournament returns to the Mike Clayton designed course in Brisbane, this year without the concurrent Australian WPGA Championship as part of the week.
The jewel in the PGA of Australia’s tournament crown will however be co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour, with the Australian Open the following week likewise and marking the first time the men’s and women’s national opens will be played concurrently.
Lee joins Lucas Herbert as the only big named starters confirmed at this time, but after securing the Claret Jug at St Andrews, Smith did give away that he is likely to return home as well. And as a former member of ‘RQ’ and two-time Australian PGA winner it would surprise many if he wasn’t in the field when the tournament kicks off on November 24.
“My plan is to come back and play those couple at the end of the year,” Smith told Sunrise on Channel 7. “Just really spend some time at home as well. I haven’t been home for three years now, so that’s probably my priority over playing golf but the plan so far is to play some golf as well.”
That may be the time that Lee gets more practice time alongside Smith, but for now Lee is taking some Scott’s advice to heart as he focuses on finishing his DP World Tour season strongly after a break in Byron Bay before heading home to Perth.
“It is a grind, it is not supposed to be easy. I am really looking forward to the next month. I know it will be a grind against top players, but I am looking forward to it," the World No.68 said.
"He (Scott) gave me a bit of confidence, don’t need to change too much and play your own game. I can say I guess he is a good friend, I do hang out with him on the golf course and go out to dinner with him a couple of times. It’s pretty cool obviously someone you look up to then you end up hanging out with him."