Won Joon Lee will lead the Australian charge at the prestigious Japan PGA Championship in Kagoshima full of confidence after recording his maiden win as a professional.
In his 243rd start Lee claimed the first win of his career at a tournament attracting Official World Golf Ranking points on the Korean PGA Tour last week, defeating Hyungseok Seo in a playoff to claim The 62nd KPGA Championship.
Now based in Korea, Lee emerged as one of the world’s best amateurs during his time at Sydney’s Concord Golf Club and when he finished runner-up at the 2007 Australian Open a year after turning professional seemed destined for a bright future.
He played just nine events in total across 2012 and 2013 and fell to 1,508 in the world but has rediscovered his passion and drive in recent years on the Japan Golf Tour, a runner-up finish at the Top Cup Tokai Classic last year an indicator that a win was not far off.
The 33-year-old’s win in Korea pushes him up to a career-high ranking of 231st in the world and finally shakes the monkey off the back that he has what it takes to win on tour.
Currently sitting 19th on the Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit, Lee is one of four Aussies in the field this week at Ibusuki Golf Club along with Brad Kennedy, Anthony Quayle, David Bransdon and Kiwi Michael Hendry.
Hendry will also feel good about his game coming into the Japan PGA Championship won four years ago by South Australian Adam Bland.
The New Zealander shot 66 in the third round of the Dunlop SRIXON Fukushima Open last week, the cancellation of the final round due to rain making it the final round of the tournament.
Kennedy returns to Japan after a couple of weeks back home on the Gold Coast hoping to go one better than his performance of two years ago when he finished runner-up behind Yusaku Miyazato at Kanehide Kise Country Club.
The extra incentive for the Aussies and lone Kiwi in the field this week is that the winner of the Japan PGA Championship earns a five-year exemption on the Japan Golf Tour.
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