Sport

Is Minjee Lee set to become Australia’s next golfing sensation? By Richard Cooke.
Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Young gun: Minjee Lee, 19, golfer

I think women mature early. So even if you’re 17 or 18, you still can be very mature like Lydia [Ko]. She started when she was really young. But she was really mature the way she was playing golf.

Between shots, I try not to think about golf. No shots, or anything related to golf. I just talk to my caddie about other things. You switch on when you’re hitting the shot and then you switch off when you’re walking in between.

Winning my first LPGA event was unexpected. I just went into the week after missing a few cuts. So I was going in with no expectations and I don’t know – I played each shot and just put myself in contention. Winning was a pleasant surprise.

I have a little bit of everything. But I’m not fantastic at some things. I’m just all round pretty solid. If it all clicks at the same time…

Golf is hard because you’re trying to hit a tiny little ball around green stuff. It comes with practice and you need to put the time and effort into improving your game. As an amateur golfer, if you play once every three weeks or something, then it’s going to be hard to get in the rhythm. When you play every week, it’s different.

We have the same routine every day. Gym work, and then our course work, and then we play and practise. It’s the same every week until we have a week off.

I definitely enjoy it. I mean, that’s why I’m out here. Because you put so much effort and time into getting to the highest level with all these amazing girls.

It is a different life from other teenagers. But I guess they have a path that they want to pursue and this is the path that I wanted to go on. I knew that I wanted to get on, that’s why I’m out here and that’s why other people are either going to uni or partying and other stuff.

I started thinking about going pro when I was 15. I got into the national squad when I was 14. And those tournaments I got to play in, different experiences, that I could have and like going overseas and stuff, I really got the feel of it. What it was like to travel and play against a lot of the other girls. So I think that really drove me to where I am now.

I don’t remember the first time I hit a golf ball. It must have been a long time ago. I might have been six, something like that. 

I’ve always been around golf. My parents play, my grandparents play, my brother plays. It’s always been in our family. Now I’m not really home much so we haven’t really played a lot of golf together.

I don’t mind the travel, it’s all part of it, isn’t it. I like playing the British Open and stuff, going on the links courses are always a different experience. This year every single week is new to me so I’m taking it as it comes.

I’m not very superstitious. I’ve got my mum, she can by my lucky charm. She just travels with me to help me out. She cooks for me. I still feel like a baby.

I stayed with Karrie Webb at the US Open. I was there as an amateur. It was really cool – she’s just been great altogether and I asked for a lot of advice. I ask little things. How do you hit the shot? Which hotel should I go to? Where should I eat? But she’s paved her own path and I’ll pave my own.

It’s not just a distance contest between drivers on the ladies tour. I mean our courses are not super long and I guess because the guys have more strength and power that’s probably why it’s become like that. But with women it’s a little different.

My ultimate goal in golf? I want to be in the Hall of Fame.

You climb the rankings slowly. I mean, I keep improving every week and every month and every year. Hopefully that will do its job.

This week’s highlights…

• Cricket: Australia v New Zealand, 2nd Test 

Until Tuesday, daily from 10.30am (AWDT), WACA Ground, Perth

• Basketball: WNBL – UC Capitals v Adelaide Lightning 

Saturday, 7pm (AEDT), AIS Arena, Canberra

• Mixed Martial Arts: UFC 193 – Ronda Rousey v Holly Holm

Sunday, 10.15am (AEDT), Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

• Cricket: All-Stars T20, match 3: Warne’s Warriors v Sachin’s Blasters

Sunday, 1.30pm (AEDT), Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

• Soccer: W-League – Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory

Sunday, 3pm (AEDT), Marconi Stadium, Sydney

• Soccer: A-League – Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory FC

Sunday, 4pm (AEST), Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Nov 14, 2015 as "Young gun". Subscribe here.

Richard Cooke
is a journalist and writer for television. He is The Saturday Paper's sports editor.