Magic Shots Keep Coming From Leader Min Woo Lee

Magic Shots Keep Coming From Leader Min Woo Lee 828 549 ISPS Handa

“Magic Min” is quickly fitting as the moniker for the young Australian golfer expanding his catalogue of memorable shots by the day at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open. 

Min Woo Lee has sent a jolt of home-spun electricity through the opening two days of the tournament like no other player to lead by three shots after a superb seven-under-par 64 on Friday. 

That’s saying something considering his playing partner has been Cameron Smith, the 2022 Open champion and a local favorite in his own right. Not only has Lee outplayed Smith but he’s the one the galleries have embraced because he’s triggering the “oohs and aahs.” 

Lee sits at 12-under-par after a mesmerising surge of six-under over his closing eight holes catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard at The Australian Golf Club. 

It was crowned by a breathtaking shot at the final hole, a par five with a famously tricky approach because of the pond and bunker guarding the green and fluctuating breezes. 

Lee ripped another of his prodigious drives more than 300m but he pulled it which left him in the pine straw off the left side of the fairway. 

The fans who‘d followed him all day had already seen him hole a bunker shot for birdie on the fourth hole. They knew he’d holed a long bunker shot for a miracle par in the opening round. 

And, of course, they’d seen highlights of the chip-in eagle that was the turning point when he won the Australian PGA in Brisbane a week earlier. 

There’s something fearless to this 25-year-old in the peak of form. He took nine iron, shut down the loft a little and hit the most astonishing shot. 

There was draw aplenty on the ball, it landed mid-green, skipped up to the top tier and screwed left more than a metre after the third bounce. That’s how much spin was on the ball. 

It was all but a tap-in putt for eagle. You appreciated the quality even more because playing partners Smith and Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino both came up short in the front bunker from the fairway.

“I ended up in the nice pine straw and had a really good number for a nine iron, like a really big nine iron,” Lee explained post-round. 

“It’s always nice to make an eagle whenever but on the last hole, it’s even nicer.” 

Lee felt the energy from the crowd on the back nine as he rolled in four birdie putts. Playing partners Smith and Hoshino rolled in six between them as well. 

“It was unreal. Most of my golf has been really good because of the crowd and the support and I’m really happy for that,” Lee said. 

The closest challengers to Lee at nine-under are Scotland’s Connor Syme, who cooled after four early birdies in his round of two-under 70 at The Lakes, and American Patrick Rodgers. 

Rodgers had his own 70 to sit with Syme. The American has collected 14 birdies in just two rounds. 

Chile’s Joaquin Niemann and Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas, both winners on the PGA Tour, are at eight-under.First round leader Cameron Davis is at six-under after a poor three-over 74 at The Australian. Adam Scott holed a wedge for an eagle mid-round in his 68 to be four-under alongside Smith. 

It’s not in Lee’s nature to ease up. The challengers will have to keep up if the winning score is heading for another 20-under mark this weekend. 

“I don’t back down from anything. I’m an aggressive player…so yeah go out there and do the same thing,” Lee said. 

Korean Jiyai Shin is the halfway leader in the quest for the Women’s Australian Open title. 

Her four-under 68 at The Australian pushed her to nine-under and a two-shot lead over South Africa’s defending champion Ashleigh Buhai, who had a three-under 70 at The Lakes. 

Shin is a regular visitor to Australia and searches out a meat pie as one of her favourite local foods. 

The winner of the Australian Open in 2013 has the pedigree of two majors behind her as well.