Golf: Freo’s Minjee Lee to head WA charge at Vic Open

Minjee Lee. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Minjee Lee. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

A HOST of West Australian golf stars will return for the Vic Open this week at 13th Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads, where both men and women will play the same courses and receive equal prize money.

Australia’s number one female golfer Minjee Lee will be the one to watch over the tournament, with the current world No.19 gearing up for the Australian Women’s Open.

The Royal Fremantle member will enter the competition as the highest-ranked professional in either the men’s or women’s field, having already clinched the title in 2014 as a 17-year old amateur.

Mt Lawley member Hannah Green reaches her second event as an LPGA professional in Victoria, after competing at the Pure Silk Bahamas last week where she narrowly missed a top-10 finish.

The 21-year-old will be one of the favourites to capture the title, with her sixth-place finish last year holding her in good stead for another opportunity at the championship.

Stephen Leaney and Gosnells member Jarryd Felton will lead WA’s male contingent, while Min Woo Lee will join his sister for the second successive year at Barwon Heads.

Min Woo finished in a tie for sixth last year and will again fancy his chances to claim the low amateur honours, with the 19-year-old eager to impress ahead of the ISPS Handa World Super 6 international event at Lake Karrinyup.

“It gives me plenty of confidence,” Min Woo claimed.

“I am heading into this week with no expectations, given I have jarred my thumb. I am just going to go out there and swing freely.

“Preparation for next week that’s the important one, but I definitely have a lot of confidence going into this week. It’s nice to come back to a course you’ve played really well at.”

The leading amateur believes both courses have their challenges, with similar comparisons to many Perth courses meaning the West Australians are well prepared.

“If I could describe it in two words it’s windy and it’s tough,” Min Woo said.

“The beach course is the main course where we play three times and today it got to 40km/h winds, so we got it at the worst time.

“It’s pretty challenging when you have an 8-iron into a 110m shot. It’s a nice track, but scoring may not be that low.”

The Lees have the added bonus of spending some quality time with the family over the week, with both unable to see their parents on a regular basis due to golfing commitments.

“Yeah it’s really fun, just great to have the whole family together especially at a golf tournament,” he said.

“To have mum’s cooking and dad’s company. We don’t really get that much time together, so it’s good.”

WA Open champion Leaney will be eager for a good showing to start his 2018, while 22-year-old Felton will compete in the Vic Open for the third straight year.

Steve Dartnell, Scott Strange, Rick Kulacz, Braden Becker and Daniel Fox make up the rest of the WA field.

The Vic Open begins tomorrow, with the each field vying for the prize purse of $650,000.

The winner will receive Official World Golf Ranking Points and become fully exempt on to the PGA Tour of Australasia for the remainder of this season, plus a further two years.