Date: February 06, 2020
Author: Mark Hayes @ 13th Beach

Lee gives us 66 reasons to ponder

Min Woo Lee signed for a 66 today.

Naturally, the young West Australian was happy enough to put himself in a position from which he should make a weekend launch at the ISPS Handa Vic Open crown.

We’ll have to wait until Sunday to learn whether that six-under round will be an immaterial footnote and a stepping stone to glory.

Or, as the generous early gallery that watched it unfold will almost undoubtedly fear – did he leave the winning shots scattered around the Creek Course?

For his part, Lee was upbeat and clearly happy to have begun what could be a career-shaping week with substantial long-term European Tour spoils on the line.

“For me it was a bit shaky there … but it was good fun,” Lee said.

“We fed off each other and we holed some putts at the end.

“Jake played pretty solid all day and I just finished off really nice on the back nine.”

Which is a mix of understatement and the truth.

McLeod, arguably, missed a couple of chances in his first nine having started on the 10th tee.

But by and large, he showed the increasing poise of a player beginning to feel at home with his Euro playing rights.

Lee, though, was up and down like the Assyrian Empire during the same stretch.

He threatened something special when his eagle try skirted the hole on the 10th, then he dialed a wedge inside 1.5m on the 11th to surge from the blocks.

But a pulled tee shot up the drivable par-four 14th ultimately led to a bogey and a slightly wayward tee shot on the next effectively blocked direct attack on the hole for his second and resulted in him falling back to square.

Blown birdie chances on 16 and 17 could have derailed a player less mentally agile, but his charge began with a neat 3m birdie roll on the tough 18th.

Another short eagle try went begging on the second, as did another later on the seventh, but around those two-putt birdies were three others and suddenly Lee was in the mix.

“I holed the first two putts with birdie and then, yeah, I kind of fell from there, but I regained a little bit of focus and the back nine was really special, it was good,” said Lee, who is acutely aware of both his current limited European status and the pathways that will open up with a victory.

“We're here to win (and) obviously the field's not as strong as usual (on the European Tour), so we have a good chance.

“I'm sure we both know we have a good chance of winning.

McLeod concurred: “Obviously it helps with points on the Race to Dubai.”

They might have had fun today, the men in black, but they’re all business when it’s required.
And come Sunday afternoon, you can’t help but think both will be right in the thick of the action.