Five things to know: Min Woo Lee
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Written by Staff @PGATOUR
Min Woo Lee was one of the last men in the field for THE PLAYERS Championship, but he’s making the most of the 11th-hour opportunity. Lee has been challenging the lead Saturday after an electric start to the third round. After shooting 68-70 in the opening two rounds at TPC Sawgrass, he started the third round by holing out from 112 yards for an eagle on No. 1.
Here are five things to know about Lee, who is making just the 19th PGA TOUR start of his career and debut at TPC Sawgrass:
1. GLOBAL PLAYER
Lee, 24, is still relatively unknown in America, but not so on the DP World Tour, where he’s a two-time winner (2021 Aberdeen Scottish Open, 2020 ISPS Handa Vic Open in his native Australia). Lee hasn’t finished out of the top 15 in his last five starts on the DP World Tour, including a third-place finish at the Australian Open and runner-up at the Abu Dhabi Championship. That solid play has allowed him to jump into the world top 50 (more on that later) and he’s third in the season-long DP World Tour points race. In a new initiative this year, the top 10 at the end of the season will earn PGA TOUR cards.
“I'm playing really solid,” said Lee, who missed the cut at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. “Other than last week, I've had a really good stretch of golf and feel confident as ever. Hitting the right shots and swinging it good, and it's nice when the ball listens to you. It’s helpful.”
2. FAMILY AFFAIR
Minjee Lee, his older sister, has won eight times on the LPGA Tour, including two majors. She’s two years older, and their sibling rivalry goes back years.
Minjee won the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior, and when Min Woo won the 2016 U.S. Junior, they became the first brother-sister combination to win that event.
Min Woo says his sister is more level-headed, and he has tried to learn from her example. Minjee says her brother is more aggressive on the course, and more of an extrovert.
“I get a bit of grief sometimes about being in her shadow a bit,” Min Woo wrote in an article on PGATOUR.COM in 2021, “so it’s become kind of a motivation for me.”
In the same article, Minjee wrote: “Previously, a lot of people were saying ‘This is Minjee’s brother’ and I think that kind of got on his nerves a little, but I think he’s writing his own book now which is cool to see.”
3. LATE ADDITION
Lee didn’t earn his invitation to THE PLAYERS until two weeks ago, and did so by the slimmest of margins. The top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after The Honda Classic on Feb. 26 earned spots in THE PLAYERS and Lee grabbed the last available spot after a spectacular Sunday. A final-round 66 at The Honda jumped him more than 30 spots on the leaderboard and into a tie for 26th place. It was just enough for him to get into THE PLAYERS field.
4. TIGHT FINISH
Lee’s journey into contention at TPC Sawgrass has been an eventful one. He had to overcome calf cramps in the first round, requiring on-course medical attention from a physiotherapist between shots. He still shot 68 in the first round. "I just swung my driver, and at the end of it I kind of overextended my calf and wasn't the best of timing,” Lee said about the cramp that struck after he hit his tee shot on No. 15 and hampered him during his final four holes. He birdied the par-5 16th but closed the round with bogeys on his final two holes, including a tee shot into the water at the Island Green.
5. STING KING
Lee is known on Instagram for executing one of the most popular shots on social media: the stinger. Lee grew up in windy west Australia, in the city of Perth, and the low, running tee shot came in handy in those conditions. Lee also learned some tips about the shot from the stinger master, Tiger Woods, during a clinic at a junior tournament. “Got a few notes from him. ... What he said at the clinic kind of just clicked,” Lee said. “I took everything he said with the stinger. I’ve used it a while."
One of Lee’s tips for executing the shot is counterintuitive. “It sounds weird, but I tee it up higher than usual,” he said. “If you want a very low one, you tee it up just a little bit just to hit down on it a bit more.”
Min Woo Lee: Stinger Instructional