Min Woo Lee had options.
He could have chosen an invitation to play in a foreign professional event, but instead elected to be in South Australia for the Australian Interstate Series.
It speaks volumes for the tournament that the world No.9 amateur, who rarely goes a day without a question over his impending professional career, wants to win the Interstate.
It also says a lot for the lofty position of West Australian golf that Lee thinks it’s eminently possible despite a host of contenders for the men’s domestic team crown.
“I definitely think we can win,” Lee said in a brief time-out from his preparations.
“We have been close a couple of times in the past few years but we’ve been on the wrong side of a few 4-3 results and if we can get a couple of those to go our way, I reckon we can get there this time.”
On paper, the WA team will be among the leading chances when the men’s event tees off at The Grange Golf Club’s east course from Tuesday.
The defending champion Victorian team has made just one change – Darcy Brereton in for new professional Cam John – from the team that stunned New South Wales in a tense final in Perth last year.
Queensland, without the injured Chris Crabtree, has added world No.26 Dylan Perry to its ranks and now boasts three of the six Aussies to play in last year’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, including Shae Wools-Cobb and Charlie Dann.
And, of course, it’s an exercise in danger to write off NSW which will pack a whole new punch having lost several guns to the pro ranks in the past six months, yet still have immense firepower including Blake Windred, Jordie Garner and powerhouse Josh Armstrong.
But it’s WA that enters on a roll.
The state’s youngsters took three of a possible four trophies from the recent Australian Junior Championships in Perth, with Connor Fewkes putting his name up in lights with the national individual crown.
Fewkes will join fellow promising 17-year-olds Josh Greer and Cooper Geddes in a team stacked with experience at both domestic and international level, with Fred Lee, Kiran Day, Haydn Barron and the steely determination of Ben Ferguson alongside Min Woo in a team without a glaring deficiency,
“We have a team that can compete in all matches,” Lee said.
“There’s a few of us who’ve played a few of these and some really impressive juniors, too. And I think what we have is a team that’s really good mates, as well, so we’re ready to go.”
Lee, who’ll be a fixture at No.1, will be a marked man in what promises to be some outstanding match-ups at the top of the order.
There’s a chance Lee’s dance card will feature his good mates Zach Murray (Vic) and Wools-Cobb (Qld), Riversdale Cup hero Jack Thompson (SA) at his home club, then possibly Windred (NSW) in what will be key match-ups among the heavy-hitting states.
“It’s going to be great,” Lee said. “We’re obviously good mates, most of us, and there’s always a bit more to it when you’re trying to beat your mates as well. I can’t wait.”
NSW and national coach Dean Kinney concurred with Lee’s assessment that the depth of the states will be the key factor.
“On paper, there looks to be a lot of really tight matches, so I think if you can get the edge in those tight ones, that will go a long way towards (determining a winner),” Kinney said.
“You’ll generally find the teams that bond well and have an even contribution throughout will have an edge in the tight contests.”
The men’s tournament begins on Tuesday with each state and the Northern Territory playing six round-robin contests (and one bye) by Friday lunchtime.
The round robin contests pit seven men from each state, while the final between the top two teams will feature all eight players with the top-ranked team needing only four points to secure the title.