Date: April 03, 2014
Author: Martin Blake /

Relaxed Lee plots assault on Major

Minjee Lee is in her element at Mission Hills. Australia&aposs world No. 1 ranked amateur is playing her first major championship this week in California on invitation, and nobody believes it will be her last. In some ways, this week at the Kraft Nabisco Championship is another step along the line to what should be a great career. For now, though, the Perth teenager is soaking it all in. She played a couple of practice rounds with Karrie Webb, who guided both her and Su Oh, the other Golf Australia elite squad member in the field, through the machinations of a major. Lee, 17, is excited but scarcely overwhelmed. “It feels like an Aussie Open,&apos&apos she said. Staying with her coach Ritchie Smith, the reigning Australian amateur champion tees off in round one at 8.30 am (Californian time) tomorrow with Laura Diaz. “It doesn&apost really feel different in terms of playing golf, but I think I&aposve prepared a bit more to play this tournament,&apos&apos Lee told Golf Australia. “I&aposve had a couple of practice rounds to get used to the course. Driving it is pretty tight. You&aposve got to be accurate.&apos&apos The Western Australian is already ranked 110th in the world — second behind Webb among Australians — despite not yet turning professional. She had a brilliant summer at home, finishing runner-up to Cheyenne Woods in the Australian Ladies Masters, contending in the ISPS Handa Women&aposs Australian Open and winning the Victorian Open, so she is no stranger to playing among the professionals. But for now, she is hosing down any speculation about whether she can contend. “I don&apost have any expectations,&apos&apos she said. “I&aposll go in without expectations, try to play my best and hopefully I get a good result out of it. Because it is my first big one, I&aposm going to have fun.&apos&apos Mission Hills is the annual venue for the Kraft Nabisco, famous for its par-five 18th hole, where the players slap hands with the patrons in the grandstand as they walk up to the green, and where the winner traditionally takes a jump into Poppie&aposs Pond. It is familiar to Australians who follow the career of Webb closely, for she has won it twice (in 2000 and 2006). “It&aposs a championship golf course,&apos&apos said Lee. “You have to drive straight. The greens aren&apost huge, they&aposre relatively small and firm, and they&aposre fast. So if you&aposre just off, you&aposre in the rough. I like the course. You&aposve got to be very good.&apos&apos