By Brad Green
The support of the crowd is what Minjee Lee remembers most about her historic victory in the Oates Vic Open at 13th Beach Golf Links back in 2014.
Lee became the first amateur to win the women’s title when she stormed to a six-shot victory around the Barwon Heads layout.
The 20-year-old from Western Australia is back at the scene of that triumph this week looking to add another Oates Vic Open title to her growing list of tournament victories.
The World No. 17 has plenty of family support around the course over the next few days with younger brother also Min Woo Lee teeing up in the men’s field.
Lee said she’s excited to be back at Barwon Heads and is looking to put in a solid performance on home soil.
“You can only put pressure on yourself,” Lee said. “Obviously I want to perform really well when I come home so I have that pressure on myself to compete.
“I’ve had two years on tour (in America) now and this will be my third this year. Having three wins is a big confidence boost for me; I know that I can compete out there.
“I have a lot of great memories here, it was pretty much my first pro win. I haven’t been back since, but it’s nice to be back and the course is in great shape.”
Lee, who represented Australia at the 2016 Olympics and is a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour in America, is delighted to see the interest from the players and spectators in the Oates Vic Open grow every year.
“This year it’s a little more international being co-sanctioned with (the Ladies European Tour) so it will get a bit more coverage and a little more recognised by other tours,” she said.
“Maybe they’ll like the idea and come out here and maybe even have a tournament like this somewhere around the world.”
Lee will begin her Oates Vic Open campaign at 8.20am off the 10th on the Creek Course in tomorrow’s first round with West Australian Hannah Green and India’s Aditi Ashok.
American Beth Allen, last year’s LET Order of Merit winner, is another with an early Creek course tee-time. She’s paired with Rebecca Artis and Swede Camilla Lennarth at 7.40am.
Katherine Kirk, who finished fourth at last week’s RACV Gold Coast Challenge, will play alongside England’s Melissa Reid at 7.20am off the 10th tee on the Creek course.