Aussie Lee set to make US PGA debut at Pebble Beach

Australia's Min Woo Lee will make his US PGA Tour debut on Thursday in the first round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Australia's Min Woo Lee will make his US PGA Tour debut on Thursday in the first round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Ben STANSALL AFP/File
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San Francisco (AFP)

Min Woo Lee, a 22-year-old Australian whose sister Minjee is an LPGA standout, makes his US PGA Tour debut Thursday at Pebble Beach hoping to follow in her footsteps.

"It's amazing to start at Pebble Beach," Lee said. "Really excited to play this week. It's a dream come true to get a start on the PGA Tour and hopefully I capitalize on it."

The famed oceanside layout typically has non-golf celebrities alongside professionals at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am but will be played more like a typical tour event this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lee won the 2016 US Junior Amateur and took his first pro victory at last February's Victoria Open in Australia, a European Tour-sanctioned event.

Minjee Lee, 24, was a former world amateur number one who won the 2012 US Girls Junior and captured her first LPGA title in 2015 at Kingsmill before playing in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Her fifth and most recent LPGA title came at the 2019 Los Angeles Open. Last year, she matched her best major finish by placing third at the Women's British Open.

Now Lee hopes he can make the Perth siblings a rare brother-sister duo with triumphs on the PGA and LPGA circuits at the same time.

"To have maybe a PGA tournament win and obviously she's won a few times, that would be a really good achievement for our family," Lee said.

"But it's awesome to have a sister that plays at such a high level and a frequent winner out there, so hopefully I can follow in her footsteps. Yeah, it's special."

Lee got some advice on the eve of the opening round from compatriot Jason Day and noted his experience on the European Tour was good preparation for the PGA challenges.

"The European way is a really good place to start and come over here, just because you play different courses and different styles of golf," he said. "Hopefully I can come over here."

- In sister's shadow -

In essays on the PGA Tour website, Lee and his sister reflected on growing up together with dreams of golf stardom.

"It's amazing to see what she has achieved," Lee said. "Even though she started playing after me, she got fired up really early. She has a lot of talent and worked really hard.

"I get a bit of grief sometimes about being in her shadow a bit, so it has become kind of a motivation for me. But apart from that, it's nice to have a sister who plays at the highest level.

"I'm the kind of player who shows a lot of body language," he said. "In contrast, she is pretty calm and is very straight-faced. I'm learning to be a bit more like her. I still want the fire or anger when something happens but I want to learn to be able to move away from it quickly.

"Minjee is very good at it and you won't know if she’s shooting 5-under or 5-over. That’s one thing she’s helped me the most as she is very level headed."

Minjee said her brother was more eager to learn through playing often with friends while she worked more in practice sessions.

"He's really living his dream now and that's really cool to see," Minjee Lee wrote. "I've won several events on the LPGA. I think those wins drive him on to also want to win at the highest level. Because he sees me doing well, he wants to do well too and I’m sure he will."