[PHOTO: Getty images]
It’s hard to know where Min Woo Lee does his best work. Tournament results this year suggest it’s on golf’s biggest stages. But one could argue it’s on social media. There, the younger brother of LPGA star Minjee does everything from mobilise his 600,000-plus total followers with a catchphrase, “Let him cook,” to obtaining Steph Curry’s phone number through Instagram DMs.
“I’m in the TGL, and he’s an investor,” Lee said. “I messaged him and said, ‘Get me on your team.’ He hasn’t messaged me back.” [laughs]
Lee is among professional golf’s post-TikTok generation; joining the paid ranks after the video platform was created in 2016. He’s as comfortable chipping in for eagle during a DP World Tour victory as he is posting a video online. His drives regularly reach 190mph in ball speed. His short game resembles wizardry. On Sunday, the human highlight reel did all of the above during a stunning win at Australian PGA Championship in Brisbane.
Lee, the younger brother of LPGA superstar Minjee Lee, fended off a field of stars from Australia, Europe and Asia to capture first of two tournaments that make up the European circuit’s Down Under swing. Lee began the final day with a three-shot lead and a 68 gave him a 20-under par (264) total. He defeated runner up, Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino, (68) by three. Lee will rise to a career-high 38th on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Australian Marc Leishman (64) was third at 16-under. Former U.S. Amateur champ Curtis Luck (69) was fourth, while LIV golfer Joaquin Niemann was fifth at 13-under, making an ace at the par-3 fourth. Adam Scott (sixth), Lucas Herbert and Cameron Davis were some of the names in the top 10.
The final scoreboard didn’t reflect how close the scores were early at Royal Queensland. Lee’s overnight lead was gone after two holes when Hoshino started the final day birdie-birdie while Lee made bogey-par. But only moments later, world No.45 Lee showed why he finished T-6 at the Players Championship this year and T-5 at the US Open. Lee nearly aced the par-3 fourth and almost drove the 350-metre par-4 sixth. He birdied the par-5 seventh before setting up the shot of the tournament.
In the rough short of the green at the 545-metre, par-5 ninth, with Hoshino snapping at his heels, the former U.S. Junior champion pitched his ball up and ran 30 feet into the hole for eagle. He let out a primal scream, knowing the back nine was likely going to be a procession.
“I think that was probably the best atmosphere shot I’ve ever hit,” Lee said of the eagle.
After three birdies and a bogey in the middle of the inward nine, Lee walked through the tunnel at the par-3 17th with a four-shot lead. The 17th was styled as a party hole with bleechers full of bars and lubricated fans. Lee missed the green left, but played a deft pitch shot and made the four-foot par putt. Even a bogey at the 72nd hole couldn’t dampen Lee’s triumph.
“It’s unbelievable,” Lee, who is also PGA Tour-bound in 2024 having secured enough non-member points, said. “I’ve always thought I could win, but it took a while to get over the hump. Two wins in the last month or so, I’m really proud of my team and myself. There are no limits. I want to be the No.1 player in the world.”
Watching on television was Lee’s two-time major winner sister, Minjee. The 27-year-old had just arrived in Australia from the U.S. ahead of next week’s Australian Open in Sydney, which is a mixed gender event.
“So proud, congrats to my little bro. Winner,” Minjee posted to social media, with some relevant emojis.
The Lees have become pro golf’s most fascinating siblings. Minjee, who recently secured her 10th LPGA Tour victory and last year the U.S. Women’s Open for her second major. She’s the more quiet, reserved of the two, who hail from Perth. “You could say I’m the opposite,” Minjee told Australian Golf Digest recently. “I think he’s just really comfortable showing his personality. I’m just a little bit more introverted.”
“Minjee’s a one-of-a-kind golfer and I’m slowly becoming a name myself,” Min Woo said. “Every time I win, it seems like next week she wins. So, if you guys want to put some money on my sister next week.”
Min Woo is the showman. His occasionally errant tee shots and thrilling escapes make him more like some of the other names on the Australian PGA trophy: Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman and Gary Player. Or, Joe Kirkwood, the Australian pro and travelling trick-shot artist the tournament’s trophy is named after.
So it was appropriate that on the 72nd green, during an interview, Lee said of his chip-in eagle, “I wanna see [the video] straight away. I would like to see it.”
Well, that’s easy. It’s already on social media.
FULL AUSTRALIAN PGA COVERAGE HERE