Min Woo Lee at today’s press conference – photo PGA of Australia

The 2022 Fortinet Australian PGA Championship might not be blessed with a field strength typical of those seen in the recent history of the event, but the inclusion of one of Australia’s brightest stars, and a player likely to take his world ranking even higher than his current 49th, Min Woo Lee, adds a significant dimension to the event.

Not only is Lee the highest ranked player in the field by a considerable margin but he is considered by many to join the ranks of Cameron Smith, Cameron Davis, Lucas Herbert as Australia’s brightest prospects on the PGA Tour in good time and move into the elite of the game.

Only seven months ago, Lee was outside the top 250 in the world but a win at the Scottish open in July changed all that and when he followed up with a good finish to the year which included three top tens in his last four starts he had moved just inside the top 50.

That standing earns him the right to play the Masters at Augusta National in April, a dream come true for any golfer and Lee is excited about what lies ahead and he explained how he managed to get there.

“Well top 50 (ranking) wasn’t even a goal until the second last week of my Tournament schedule, so I come fourth in the AVIV Dubai Tournament (he finished 4th ) and I was like just under 60th ranked, so it only just popped in my head, I had to play good in that last Tournament.

He managed to finish 16th in the season ending World Tour Championship and a much sought after  invitation letter to the Masters was on its way.

“I think if I did make a birdie on the last I would have not been in the top 50, so it was great to make that birdie and I would have kicked myself if I didn’t, because I didn’t play that good that last day.  So no, I’m really looking forward to it.

“I didn’t get the actual invitation, my manager did, so hopefully when I get it, it will be like that, (very special) but I mean, just to share to the world that I got into it, it was – it got a lot of attention and it’s just awesome.  I think I said in my other interview, it’s just something you dream of as a kid and you try to get to the Masters.

“I don’t think it will sink in until I get there.  It’s just going to be a different field, so I’m looking forward to it.  It’s going to be pretty special.”

Lee has won a significant event at home previously, having won the Vic Open two years ago, an event jointly sanctioned between the European tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia. The difference this time being that this is essentially an Australian field compared to the more international line-up he faced at 13th Beach in Victoria but this time he is now the highest ranked player in the field.

“Yeah, I feel like at the Vic Open I kind of had that feel of being a high ranked player.  Hopefully the crowds are going to be awesome and out there and cheering me on, so I think that’s a big advantage, but you know, I’m just going to go out there and play.  If I don’t play so well, but hopefully I do, I do play well and get the year rolling.”

The tournament is being played over a revised Royal Queensland layout necessitated by Gateway Bridge additions several years ago layout and Lee commented on the layout today and just how it will play.

“It’s a very quirky course.  I played nine holes today, nine holes yesterday and some of the greens are really tricky.  It’s not like a course where you can just hit average shots and get away with it, you’ve actually got to hit good shots.

“I’m looking forward to the test. I mean the fairways are wide, but it’s nearly harder that way because it’s not – there’s nothing to kind of like go into.  There’s such a big fairway, so I have to, you know, when I get in the zone I’ll be fine, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Lee of course is the brother of Australia’s number one female golfer and one of just four Australian women to win a major, Min Woo Lee. With a family like that and very sporty parentage their parents are clearly very proud of the pair.

“I think obviously they’re happy.  They’ve actually got a café back home and they put up posters and newspapers, little things like that.  But Mum was bawling her eyes when I was calling her while my sister was winning, so that was pretty cool and she said the same thing, she did the same thing when I won.

“So I think just, I don’t know, they created us and, I don’t know, we did well I guess, but yeah, genetically, she was a golf pro and Dad was pretty sport genetic too.  He was a swimming coach and he did every other sport, so I think it was good to play at a really high stage and show them what we’ve got.”

Lee is the only player inside the top 300 in the world ranking but that does not necessarily make his task a lot easier although what it does do is open up a great opportunity to win one of Australia’s most iconic golfing titles and add even further to an outstanding last six months in the world of golf.

Minwoo’s sister Minjee – a remarkable golfing family – photo Ladies European Tour