Australia’s most underrated* sportsperson is underrated no more.
Minjee Lee’s spectacular win in the US Open – her second major* – should ensure her recognition in Australia surges* to a level appropriate for her exceptional* performances.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
Only a few years ago, when she was in the world top 10, she did not even have an Australian sponsor.
Yet her zest* for her country of birth is such that she represented Australia in two Olympics with a passion not shared by some other golfers.
And she was wearing an earring with a map of Australia as she celebrated her June 5 US Open win, her greatest tournament triumph so far. Her four-shot victory also earned her $2.5 million in prize money, the biggest single payday in women’s golf history.
Minjee Lee’s success comes from tireless dedication. Her swing has been voted the best on tour by peers* and it looks so fluent* and easy you wonder how she ever misses a fairway*.
But nothing has been left to chance. She has squeezed everything out of her ability through relentless* hard work and constant refinement*.
Lee, 26, is the daughter of Soonam and Clara Lee who moved to Perth from South Korea more than two decades ago and raised Minjee and her brother, Min Woo, who is also an exceptional golfer.
As great a star as she is in her own right, Minjee recently took on caddie* duties when her brother played a tournament at America’s famous Augusta golf course.
Behind the brother-sister banter* lies the occasional insight*. Min Woo once said when things get really tough in training he might stop “but she just keeps going.’’
Lee always had something special about her. She won a Western Australian title at age 10, the US junior championship nine years ago and was just 17 when ranked No.1 amateur* in the world.
It’s seven years since she was ranked the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s rookie* of the year and she has been floating in and around the world top 10 for five years.
Her mother was a teaching professional at a driving range* in Perth and her father was also a very good golfer. The family now runs a cafe in Perth.
Minjee Lee wins US Women’s Open
While Minjee did many of the fun things that youngsters do at school – singing in choirs and taking dancing lessons – there was never any doubt that golf would be her future.
In Year 11 she even moved schools to be closer to her home golf course in Fremantle.
Much like recently retired Australian tennis star Ash Barty, Lee has had the benefit of a wise coach (Ritchie Smith) and a close, supportive family.
They have climbed the mountain together and there’s plenty of glory days ahead.
- underrated: not rated or valued highly enough
- major: five big golf tournaments that professional women players compete in
- surges: move suddenly and powerfully forward or upward
- exceptional: extraordinary, unusual
- zest: great enthusiasm and energy
- peers: equals, people at the same level
- fluent: smooth, graceful, effortless
- fairway: the area of short grass between the tee (the place where a player first hits the ball) and the green (where the player hits the ball into the hole)
- relentless: determined, never giving up
- refinement: making small changes to improve something
- caddie: the person who carries a golfer’s clubs and provides help and advice during a game
- banter: to talk to someone in a friendly and humorous way
- insight: a clear and deep understanding of someone or something
- amateur: someone who is not a professional, does not do a particular thing as their job
- rookie: a person who is new to an activity or role
- driving range: a facility where people practise hitting golf balls
- What major golf tournament did Minjee Lee win?
- How much money did she win?
- What piece of unique jewellery was she wearing when she won this tournament?
- Where are Minjee Lee’s parents from?
- What does her family do in Perth now?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Champion Minjee Lee
Had you heard of Minjee Lee before reading this article?
She has had an amazing career since a young age, but at 26 is just coming into the limelight. Why do you think this is so?
What do you think Minjee Lee might do with the $2.5 million prize money?
Do you think she will get more sponsorship from Australian companies now that she’s had some big success?
What type of skills do you think Minjee Lee possesses to be such a successful golfer?
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English
What do you think lies ahead for Minjee Lee and her family?
How would you like to see her celebrated as an amazing Australian sportswoman?
Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and creative thinking
Minjee Lee is described as having “tireless dedication”. What does this mean?
See if you can re-use it in a sentence to describe something you have done that was hard work, but you didn’t give up on?
If you don’t think you have done anything like that, can you think of a character from a book or movie that has shown tireless dedication? What did they do? How can you put it in a sentence to reuse the description of tireless dedication?