Aussie of the month: Min Woo Lee

We let him cook. Now, we let him rest. Lee had a huge year; he finished 10th on the DP World Tour ranking after a T-15 at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai right before his return to Australia. He secured a PGA Tour card for 2024, which he earned on the back of a maiden major top-five finish – a tie for fifth at the US Open in June – and a tie for sixth at the Players Championship. His overseas heroics set up his memorable Australian summer. He won our PGA Championship at Royal Queensland with a dramatic chip-in eagle during the final round. His third DP World Tour title took him to 38th on the Official World Golf Ranking before he led the Australian Open for most of the tournament before a final-round, one-over 72 pushed him back into third place. 

“It’s been a big year, but now the celebrations begin,” he said.

Quote of the month:

“There are some good names here. Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. It feels pretty good to join them.” 

The 2023 ISPS Handa Australian Open champion, Joaquin Niemann, while looking at the names engraved on the Stonehaven Cup. Niemann came to Australia for the PGA and Open in search of enough world ranking points to climb inside the top 50 by December 31, and receive the first wave of Masters invitations. He tried valiantly, finishing fifth at the PGA at Royal Queensland before winning the Open at The Lakes and The Australian golf clubs in a spectacular playoff.

A doff of the cap to: Michael Block

The American club pro, who gained cult status when he finished tied for 15th at the 2023 PGA Championship in New York while playing with Rory McIlroy on the final day – and making a hole-in-one! – was announced in late October as a marquee signing for the Australian Open. The news came with much conjecture about the costs involved to bring him out but Block proved his worth, wowing Sydney fans, signing every autograph, granting every interview, even drinking beers with fans after one of his rounds. Performance-wise, Block made the cut, finished a respectable five-under (71-70-69-70) and equal 27th.

“For me, as an American club professional travelling the world and having people know you on the other side of the planet is a weird, weird deal,” Block said. “I feel very fortunate to have that. I’m trying to get used to it, but I’m only like six months into it, so it’s kind of still strange to me. But I’ll sign every autograph and take every picture there is.”

Bogey of the month: False start in Florida

TIGER’S TGL: The simulator golf league, which is backed by American celebrities and PGA Tour pros, had the roof of its Florida stadium collapse, forcing TGL’s postponement until 2025. Adam Scott and Min Woo Lee were the Aussies involved in the Monday night league.

Aussie Headliners

MINJEE LEE: After a T-8 at the CME Group Tour Championship, Lee finished fifth on the LPGA Tour’s year-long points list. She then came to Australia and nearly won the Women’s Australian Open, finishing second.

DAVID MICHELUZZI: Overcame a seven-shot deficit early in the final round to win the 2023 Vic PGA at Moonah Links. Last year, Micheluzzi [left] won three times and took out the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit, which came with a DP World Tour card he’s now using.

BRAD KENNEDY: After a season marred by injury, Kennedy progressed to the finale of the Japan Tour, the Golf Japan Series JT Cup in Tokyo. He was 25th on the moneylist in Japan and the only Australian to qualify for the 30-man tournament.

GREG NORMAN MEDAL WINNERS: During the week of the Australian PGA, the annual Greg Norman Medal dinner was held, with the Great White Shark even ‘Zooming in’ from Florida to announce Minjee Lee as the champion. Other winners of awards included PGA Tour of Australasia Player of the Year David Micheluzzi; PGA Legends Tour Player of the Year Andre Stolz; Margie Masters WPGA Tour Player of the Year Grace Kim and PGA of Australia National Coach of the Year Grant Field (Pelican Waters Golf Club).

CAITLIN PEIRCE: The South Australian shot a closing round of 71 to finish T-7 as the leading women’s amateur at the Australian Open.

JASPER STUBBS: The Asia-Pacific Amateur champion continued his amazing run of form to finish as the low men’s amateur at the Australian Open.

MOLLY McLEAN: The 2022 South Australian Junior Amateur champion shot rounds of 75-80-79-73 to claim the women’s Dunes Medal, winning after a two-hole playoff against runner-up Shanaiah Fernando.