Kiwi golfing sensation swings into record books
23 Feb 2009
New Zealand’s teenage golfing sensation Danny Lee swung his way into a dramatic victory at the Johnny Walker Classic in Perth yesterday (22.02.09), confirming his reputation as one of the world’s most exciting young golfers.
Danny Lee’s winning streak - including 23 birdies, four bogeys and one double-bogey - made him the tournament's youngest winner, the youngest player to win a professional European Tour event, and the first amateur winner of an Australasian Tour event in 10 years.
With his five-under-par 67 and one-stroke victory, Lee also became the third New Zealander to win the Classic, after Mark Brown (2008) and Michael Campbell (1999).
Dreaming at the moment
‘‘It feels like I'm dreaming at the moment,'' said Lee. ‘‘I've won lots of amateur tournaments before and the US Amateur, but it's a totally different feeling than that.
‘‘It's a pro event. All I wanted to do here was make the cut after two rounds and just play well, get into the top 20 that was my goal. But I played extremely well today and I won it.''
Other Classic past winners include Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Adam Scott.
As an amateur Lee was not eligible for the winner’s cheque of NZ$582,000 that will now be shared by the three players - Ross McGowan (England), Felipe Aguilar (Argentina) and Hiroyuki Fujita (Japan) - who tied for second place.
World’s top amateur
Lee, from Rotorua - New Zealand’s thermal capital - came to international attention last year when he eclipsed Tiger Woods as the youngest US amateur champion.
Currently the world's top amateur, Lee plans to turn professional after the US Masters in April 2009.
As winner of the Johnnie Walker Classic, Lee secured a two-year exemption to the European, Asian and Australasian tours, and he is already eyeing up the high-profile European tour after the Masters.
"There are lots of great European events out there and I'd love to play in the European events,'' he said.
New Zealand Open
Lee will play in the Moonah Classic in Melbourne next week, before returning to New Zealand for the HSBC NZPGA Championship - at Clearwater, Christchurch (5 - 8 March) - and the New Zealand Open - at The Hills, near Queenstown (12 - 15 March).
If he wins the New Zealand Open, Danny Lee will be following in the footsteps of another legendary Kiwi golfer, Sir Bob Charles. Charles was also an 18-year-old when he won that title.
New Zealand Golf chief executive Bill MacGowan said Lee was headed for "super star" status.
‘‘It's a great result for Danny and the interest around the two tournaments here in New Zealand will be fantastic. Who wouldn't want to go and see him play?'' said MacGowan.
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