Hometown hero Min Woo Lee will use this week’s ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth tournament to plot a course for the remainder of 2019, admitting he could temporarily turn his attention away from America and towards the European Tour instead.
Fourth at the Saudi International two weeks ago, Lee currently sits inside the top-30 in Europe’s Race to Dubai standings but also has limited status on the secondary Web.com Tour in the US after qualifying for final stage of Q School whilst still an amateur.
His management company, IMG, facilitated sponsor invitations at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the Saudi International where he stared down some of the biggest names in world golf with weekend rounds of 63-63 to run fourth.
The 20-year-old immediately flew from Saudi Arabia to Panama to make his Web.com Tour debut but after missing the cut hastily added the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 tournament to his schedule.
A rookie year as a professional comes with a high level of uncertainty but Lee knows a strong display this week – where he made it through to the third round of matchplay last year – could shore up a more complete schedule in Europe.
“I'm not sure what my plan is. Whatever opportunities I get I've got to play well in those,” said Lee of a playing schedule that he is constructing on the fly.
“I’ve kind of got half the points already to keep my European Tour card so that is definitely a chance, that I can go to the European Tour.
“I think I'm in the top-30 of the Race to Dubai which I think makes it easier to get invites. I'm not too sure, but, like I said, I have to get the opportunities and play well in them.
“Whatever starts I get I will take advantage of it, hopefully.
“Obviously a win gets you on the European Tour, but a high finish obviously helps my ranking and my Race to Dubai points. We’ll just see what happens.”
Despite stating his intention to play predominantly in the US this year, Lee took affiliate membership of the European Tour prior to his professional debut at Abu Dhabi.
As was the case for Lucas Herbert last year, affiliate members may only receive seven sponsor invitations over the course of the year but can extend that to an unlimited number by equaling the number of points achieved by the 110th-ranked player from last year.
Given the start he has made so early in the season, fellow West Australian Jason Scrivener believes it is the path he should follow.
“In my opinion he should probably go through Europe, especially with the fourth-place finish,” said Scrivener, who has made a brilliant start to his fifth year on the European Tour.
“He’s probably a third of the way to keeping his card and it’s a great tour now.
“I know it’s not the PGA TOUR but it’s the second-best thing.
“I think it’s definitely the way he should go.
“There’s obviously a lot to learn. It’s a big transition but now that he’s got a bit of momentum, fourth place is a big hurdle to get over early in your career.
“Feeling comfortable at the top end of a tournament like that with some big names is pretty impressive.
“I’m sure he’ll build from that and keep learning.”
With his sister, Greg Norman Medal winner Minjee Lee, in Adelaide this week to contest the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open, Min Woo’s late change of plans necessitated a hasty return flight to Perth for his father, Soonam.
He has been recruited as Min Woo’s driver and chef for the week, helping to bring the comforts of home after a head-spinning start to his professional career.
“He cooks every day for me, whatever I want, so that's nice,” said Lee.
“He’ll cook a bit of Korean food. It's nice and healthy and tasty so I'm excited to be home and get home cooked meals.
“After 11 holes in Panama I was 7-over. My manager was walking around and I was like, ‘When is the next flight to Perth?’
“If I made the top-25 in Panama I would play the next week, but that didn't go to plan so I was just straight to here.
“I went from Panama to New York and was originally supposed to go to Hong Kong and then Perth.
“A few hours after we left New York I was sleeping and the guy opened up my window and he was like, ‘We’re landing.’ I was like, ‘Oh, sweet, that was the quickest 16-hour flight I've ever had.
“Then he said we had to go back to New York so I stayed at the airport for five hours and changed my flight.
“Originally I was supposed to get in on Sunday but I ended up getting in on Monday so here I am.
“I didn’t sleep too well Monday night but I’m sure I’ll sleep good tonight.”
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