There's a trend in golf of Australian standout amateurs turning pro as teenagers.
Jason Day, Adam Scott and Cameron Smith all made the jump to the paid ranks at age 19. Minjee Lee, the sixth-ranked women's player in the world, turned pro when she was 18 years old.
Lee's younger brother, 20-year-old Min Woo Lee, is a year late for that trend, but the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur champion is poised to become the next hotshot young Aussie pro. He will make his pro debut this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where he will compete on a sponsor exemption.
"It's awesome to start out in such a prestigious event," Lee said Monday. "... I'm pumped."
For the first two rounds in Abu Dhabi, Lee will play alongside England's Jack Singh Brar, a member of the 2017 GB&I Walker Cup team, and amateur Yuxin Lin, who won the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur (Lee was T-3 that week). Lee will be represented by IMG and has signed endorsement deals with Callaway and Hugo Boss.
Lee ended his amateur career as the fifth-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He tied for 67th at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School in December to earn conditional status for the Web.com Tour in 2019. Lee made 19 starts in pro events as an amateur and tied for fifth last year at the European Tour's ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth.
“I felt I was good enough when I competed in the pro events and got to play with top pros,” Lee told Golfweek. “I played with Jordan Spieth in the Australian Open, which was an awesome experience, played against other pros and I felt as if I had the ability to be head to head with them. I love playing professional events, and that made me work even harder to one day turn pro.”