Date: December 16, 2014
Author: Mark Hayes / www.golf.org.au

Lee�s white Christmas never far from greens

Bing Crosby and Minjee Lee share few similarities, but among them are a love of golf and that they have both dreamed of a white Christmas.

Lee, for a rare time in her 18 years, will put down the golf sticks next week as she lives out the second of those passions in her parents’ native Korea.

An impromptu chance for a holiday presented itself this week after Lee successfully took the biggest step of her fledgling career – securing her 2015 LPGA Tour playing card.

And while the celebrations won’t be raucous, it’s a chance for the Perth prodigy to tick something new off her bucket list.

“I get to have a white Christmas in Korea with my family,” she delighted today in Sydney after flying home from last week’s Ladies European Tour event in Dubai.

But Lee, typifying the drive that has made the Golf Australia rookie pro one of world golf’s brightest prospects, said even though it’s a holiday, she’ll be packing the clubs.

“We decided to go after Q-School … to see family, but I’ll be meeting sponsors, too,” she said.

But almost as if to convince herself that it will be a holiday, Lee offered up “it’s a break”, but the reality of her driven nature quickly shone through: “Maybe a week off.”

Lee, who had been the world’s top-ranked amateur before turning pro after leading Australia to victory in this year’s World Teams Championship, did what many thought she would by qualifying for the LPGA Tour at her first chance.

But not even the typically calm West Australian realised the pressure that Q-School would bring to bear.

“I don’t ever want to go through it again. It’s a stressful week, it’s the LPGA (within reach) …  the (lure of) the main tour is always in the back of your mind,” she said.

“It’s definitely more pressure. Normally I’m not a nervous person, but I was there. It was a weird feeling … to play five rounds, you’re in a pressure cooker.

“I was confident I could make it into the top 20, but … just didn’t want to get ahead of myself.

“It gets harder the further you go into the week, so to have played well when I needed to was a good feeling.”

Lee said she hadn’t fully set her goals for her maiden season on the game’s greatest stage.

But after committing to the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, she’s keen to play as much as possible in the United States.

“I’d love to get the rookie of the year award, but I just have to take it one tournament at a time,” Lee said. “I don’t want to set my expectations too high.

“(Some commentators) even now refer to me as former world No.1 amateur, so maybe they have high expectations, but I don’t really think about it. I just play my golf … stay in my little bubble.

“It would be great to get (rookie of the year). But it’s a pretty good rookie class, so many good players.”

Lee confirmed her mother, a single-figure handicapper at Royal Fremantle in Perth, would be alongside her for the adventure around the US.

And while long-time Perth-based coach Ritchie Smith would also be a welcome addition to her entourage, that’s a union that will only be sporadic.

“Hopefully he comes to the States and some tournaments, but we’ve been doing that … `long-distance relationship’ (for a while now) and that’s how we’re going to keep carrying on,” Lee said with the grin that surely will become her trademark.