Don't call Min Woo Lee a golf superstar just yet
Updated: Feb 23
Don’t hang the superstar tag on Min Woo Lee just yet. Golf is full of future superstars who never fulfilled their potential.
No sooner had the Australian won the ISPS Handa Vic Open, his maiden European Tour victory, than the official European Tour twitter account was tweeting about it being the first of many victories.
“Better start getting used to trophy kisses now @Minwoo27Lee.”
Final round playing partner Marcus Fraser was gushing in his praise for his young countryman. He said:
“The thing that stands out is he doesn’t have a weakness and he’s got a great head on his shoulders.
“He’s got the mind of a 40-year-old, someone who’s been out there for a long time. He’ll be a top player in the world at some point, it’s just a matter of when he gets there, I think. He’s got all the shots. He’s very impressive. The sky’s the limit for him.”
I know such tweets are part and parcel of professional golf, that the Euro Tour is only hyping the tournaments and its winner as other tours would. Fraser is doing what’s expected of him with his graciousness, and believes what he says.
True golf fans will see through the hype. The bottom line is we just don’t know what the future holds for Min Woo Lee. Neither does he.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to act the Scrooge here. I’m just trying to be the voice of reason in a world gone mad with hyperbole.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lee during the 2017 Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s. I was already aware of his potential, thanks in part to the success of elder sister Minjee. I’d received a message from Mike Clayton telling me to have a serious look at him. Clayton knows a thing or three about this great game, and it pays to listen.
I was impressed with the Lee. He was well mannered, and came across as humble. As for his game, there was no question he had a great swing, a great attitude and bags of natural talent. However, he lost in the third round to unknown Englishman Charlie Strickland by one hole. Further proof that nothing can be taken for granted in this game.
There have been many players with Lee’s attributes who never lived up to the hype.
Remember Pablo Martin? He was the number one player in U.S. college golf while at Oklahoma State. Legendary Oklahoma State coach Mike Holder saw Martin play at age 15 and said he could have played on the PGA Tour at that age.
The Spaniard made history in 2007 by becoming the first amateur to win on the European Tour with victory in the Portuguese Open. He won consecutive Alfred Dunhill Championships in 2009 and 2010. Superstardom seemed on the cards.
Martin hasn’t had a full European Tour card since 2012.
I’ll lob in a few more names of players destined for greatness who never reached superstar status: Gordon Sherry, Michael Welch, James Heath, Ty Tryon, Louis Stahle…. I could go on and on.
I hope Lee doesn’t join the above list. I hope he has a great career. I hope he has many more trophy kisses too, but predicting his future after one win is a mug’s game.
The best thing the 21 year old can do is not get caught up in the hype. He needs to stay grounded, keep working on his game, keep improving and let the trophies follow.