A playoff loss and a team disqualification didn't prevent WA's Min Woo Lee from sharing the men’s individual gold medal on a wild final day at the Spirit International.
Played over three rounds at Whispering Pines in Texas, the Spirit a best ball international teams competition with an individual component that totals the birdies and eagles made by each player.
Individually, Lee tied with American Philip Barbaree on -18 to share the gold medal honours, but a playoff was required to decide who would earn the Web.com tour start on offer to the winner. On the first playoff hole Barbaree sunk a 30 foot putt for birdie, while a similar chance from Lee lipped out.
To add to the disappointment, the Australian men’s team of Lee and Victorian David Micheluzzi were disqualified due to a scoring error. The pair mistakenly credited a score recorded on the 17th hole by Lee to Micheluzzi. Only realising their mistake while in the clubhouse, the Aussies owned up knowing it would result in a disqualification.
As a result, their final round of 65 was made null and void. Their 22-under total would have been good enough to finish second behind the winning American team, but instead the silver medal went to France who finished on 20-under.
After struggling for the opening two days, Australia’s women’s team of Joanna Charlton and Gennai Goodwin came together with a final round 66, to move up from last to finish 18th.
It was a bittersweet afternoon for the Australian camp, but the 17-year-old Lee was able to find some positives by sharing first place on debut in the U.S.
“It was good to earn the gold even though I missed out on the (Web.com) start,” said Lee.
“There are a lot of positives to take out of this. Dave and I made a lot of birdies to put us in contention, and we worked really well together.
“We had each other’s back all week, and it was such a good feeling getting pumped up after every putt we made.”
Lee has some big starts coming up on his return home to WA, including the WA Open which will be played on his home course at Royal Fremantle Golf Club in early November.
“Overall it was a good week, especially with my putting. I feel my game is in good shape for the WA PGA as well as the WA Open.”