Win the US Amateur champion at 18 years of age.
Win the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth whilst still an amateur, becoming the youngest winner of a European Tour event in the process.
After playing in the 2009 Masters and turning professional, sign a two-year contract with Callaway reportedly worth $2 million at 19.
Given the early trajectory of Danny Lee’s career, it is understandable that the Korean-born Kiwi thought his game was in a position to compete in major championships.
But on the back of a stunning opening round of 6-under 64 in the US PGA Championship at the brutal Bethpage Black golf course, Lee has revealed the breakthrough that he hopes will transfer to greater success in golf’s biggest events.
It’s been almost four years since Lee’s sole PGA TOUR title at the Greenbrier Classic and he is one of seven Australasian players in the field for this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club, a new tournament name at one of the PGA TOUR’s most storied venues.
Bruce Devlin, Ian Baker-Finch and Adam Scott have all won at “Hogan’s Alley” with Aaron Baddeley, Matt Jones and Rod Pampling hoping to join them as past champions in a strong field this week.
Lee has shown a fondness for the Colonial layout in recent years starting with a tie for 10th in 2015.
He shot 64 in the second round in 2017 before finishing sixth and last year stormed home with a Sunday 65 to be tied for 14th.
With a premium on placement, you don’t have to be a bomber to compete at Colonial but Lee said that working with instructor George Gankas for the past 18 months has opened his eyes to the fact that a swing need not be perfect to be powerful.
“I wasn't hitting it far enough to compete out here in the major championships – PGA Championship or US Open; Masters I might have had a chance,” Lee said in a candid interview as he sat one shot behind Brooks Koepka after the first round of the PGA Championship.
“But now I'm definitely hitting it further. I can carry my driver about 290, 295 in the air. That's a huge bonus for me. And that was actually the first time I actually got to play in a major with this distance.
“I've always been trying to make my swing on the perfect plane every time, and he definitely broke that mindset of mine.
“Your club doesn't have to be travelling on your perfect path every time to hit the ball in the fairway, and that was a huge learning progress for me.”
Joining the PGA TOUR full-time in 2012, Lee failed to keep his card for the following year.
In 2014 he snuck inside the top 125 to earn status for the next year where his win at Greenbrier saw him finish the FedEx Cup in 10th position.
Currently 53rd on the FedEx Cup with two top-10 finishes this season, Lee said the reality for those sitting outside the very elite of professional golf is that year after year is a constant battle against self-doubt.
“It's definitely tough out here; it's not easy,” Lee said.
“Some of the top-20 guys in the world make it look easy, but it's not always fairytales and unicorns out here.
“When the results are not there, it definitely gives you a little heartbreak and a little bit of terror out there, and some of the media is expecting me to do better than that.
“Sometimes I get a little bit disappointed about that, my honest feelings. But all I can do is do my best.
“Outside of 100 in the world, obviously your endorsement money is not great. I mean, even I wouldn't pay an outside 100 in the world, pay that much. Let's be honest,” added Lee, who is currently ranked 113 in the world.
“And when you are fighting for your Tour card every year, it's basically where you work out here. How would you feel when you lose your job tomorrow? And you put a lot of effort into it. You've tried your best, and you did everything you could do, and you don't have a job tomorrow. That's the same feeling we have.
“I know it's a dream-chasing work, and I'm grateful and happy to be out here and happy for my opportunities out here, but it's not taking baby from candy out here.”
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