There are remarkable golf stories – and then there’s the one about Australian Boys’ Amateur Championship leader Fred Lee.
Lee, 15, fired a career-best 69 today to lead a star-studded field at Kooyonga Golf Club in Adelaide.
And if that wasn’t remarkable enough, consider this: Lee rarely plays competitive golf – of any description.
The impeccably mannered Perth teen instead chooses to practise his technique with teaching pro Craig Bishop, rarely bringing his skills to the course.
“I’m really quite excited, it’s the first time I’ve ever shot three under,” Lee said of his round that gave him a one-shot buffer over Victorian Ryan Ruffels and Queensland’s Christopher Jimenez, the only golfers under par.
“When I play, I’m normally pretty steady around par or one under, but I don’t get out very often to play.
“I just practise every day, but just working on basics, rather than playing on the course.
“I enjoy that, too, but mainly just to learn to read the greens.”
Lee, a member at Royal Perth, but who rarely plays competition rounds at the South Perth venue, said he spends more time with his father David, a one-time 12-handicapper who largely shelved golf when Fred was born.
“I surprised myself, actually. I started out wanting to be aggressive when I needed to be and patient when I needed to be,” he said.
“But I judged my shots well and worked off the yardage book pretty well.”
Lee, who plays off +1, confessed a limited knowledge of many of his rivals this week, having spent precious little time in tournaments.
But remarkably, he idolises defending champion Ruffels, a comparative veteran aged 16.
“I know Ryan. It’s actually a goal of mine to play with him – I think he’s outstanding.
“My goal is to be like Ryan Ruffels, he’s an inspiration. So is (West Australian teammate) Minwoo Lee, they inspire a lot of people.”
The pristine Kooyonga was a stern test today, despite playing a shorter length than its maximum.
Most of the pre-tournament fancies are within reach of the lead, with Minwoo Lee firing a 74, one stroke better than last year’s runner-up Blake Windred and rising Victorian Cameron John.
Queensland is well represented with Douglas Klein (73) and the impressive Charles Pilon (72) poised after the first of four rounds.
Both Pilon and Ruffels made double-bogey on the tough par-four eighth hole, preventing them from even better finishes.
Round 2 will be played tomorrow before the field is cut to 60 plus ties for 36 holes on Friday.