Australian golf’s dynamic duo, Minjee and Min Woo Lee, are set to light up the ISPS Handa Australian Open in December with their brother-sister act.
Golf Australia confirmed today that both the siblings from Perth will tee it up in the historic first mixed-gender Open at Victoria Golf Club and Kingston Heath Golf Club in Melbourne from December 1-4.
With men, women and All Abilities players all competing on the same stages at the same time, the Open will return after two years’ absence with its most inclusive format ever, as well as a cracking field.
The Lees will join the likes of Cameron Smith, Adam Scott, Hannah Green, Marc Leishman, Steph Kyriacou, Karrie Webb, Lucas Herbert, Cam Davis, Matt Jones, Geoff Ogilvy, Kiwi Ryan Fox and AIG Women’s Open winner Ashleigh Buhai in the field as well as a bunch of DP World Tour players as part of the co-sanctioning agreement in place for the men’s tournament.
The men’s and women’s tournaments will run concurrently with equal prizemoney of $1.7 million each.
Former Karrie Webb Scholarship holder Minjee Lee is currently ranked No.3 in the world having won Majors in both the past two years on the women’s circuit, highlighted by her victory at Pine Needles Golf Club in North Carolina in June this year at the US Women’s Open – the biggest tournament in women’s golf with a $US10 million prize pool.
The 26-year-old from Royal Fremantle Golf Club has been ranked as high as No.2 this year, and the world No.1 ranking remains on her radar as she rounds out 2022 playing before her home crowd. She has won more than $US3.7 million this season on the LPGA Tour to sit No.1 on the moneylist and also No.1 on the Race to CME Globe points race, with the season finale to come later this year.
She has never won the Women’s Australian Open despite being in contention on numerous occasions in eight attempts, with a best finish of third at Royal Adelaide in 2017. As a 17-year-old amateur in 2014 at Victoria she was tied in the lead through 54 holes, but faded late to finish tied for 11th leaving the way clear for the great Karrie Webb to win her fifth Open crown.
However she has won eight times on the LPGA Tour including two Majors – one of just four Australian women to secure a Major championship.
Younger brother Min Woo, 24, is 66th in the world ranking having won twice on the DP World Tour at the Vic Open and the Scottish Open in recent years. His performances in the Majors in 2022 have given a strong indication of what could lay ahead for the talented Perth player – he tied for 14th at the Masters in April and tied for 21st at the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews in July when Cameron Smith grabbed the big headlines.
Both the Lees kickstarted their careers by winning US Junior Amateur titles (Minjee in 2012 and Min Woo in 2016); both have won Vic Open titles (Minjee in 2014-’18 and Min Woo in 2019) and both are coached by Ritchie Smith at Royal Fremantle.
“In many ways, the Lees represent what we’ve set out to achieve in Australian Golf,” said James Sutherland, chief executive of Golf Australia.
“They’re sister and brother, they came through the system and graduated to become superstars.
“Not everyone has their talent, of course, but it’s what we want golf to be about. We want it to be inclusive, we want it to be everyone’s game, we already know that it’s a family sport.
“That’s why the format for this year’s Open is new and refreshed, and it’s tremendously exciting to have both Minjee and Min Woo, whom we’re extremely proud of, back at home and playing. We think that people will get right behind them in Melbourne this year.”
Minjee said: “I’m always happy to play the Australian Open and it’s a championship that I’d be honoured to win. Everyone would love to win their national Open, and to have the chance to play alongside Min Woo just adds to the excitement for that week in Melbourne.”
Min Woo said: “I’m really pleased that I can have a crack at the Open, which is high on my list of priorities and of course, to try and earn bragging rights over my sister who’s making it quite hard for me to keep up! She’s had phenomenal success, I’m very proud of her and I’ll be so happy to get out on course with her in December.”