A gap year is about having fun and Australian teen Minjee Lee thinks there’s nothing more fun than leading a professional golf tournament.
The 17-year-old from Perth was all smiles after the second round of the women’s Australian Open at Victoria Golf Club when she upstaged her older and far more experienced rivals.
Still an amateur after finishing high school last year, Lee finished her round at nine under to be well and truly in the hunt for the title.
She had a blistering run that started with an eagle on her 10th hole and then added another three birdies to complete her day with a score of 67.
A two-time Australian amateur champion, Lee last week finished runner-up to American Cheyenne Woods in the Australian Ladies Masters on the Gold Coast and said she knew she was capable of a low score.
“I’m in good form and I’m confident in my game so I’ve been playing good,” Lee said.
She produced a consistent opening nine, after starting on the 10th hole, but birdies proved elusive.
“It was such a slow start with nine pars but I was patient and it came late in the round.”
Despite obviously having the talent and poise to match the professionals Lee said she wasn’t in a hurry to change her status and join her 16-year-old friend Kiwi Lydia Ko, who is now world No.4.
“This year I’m just playing golf, it’s like my gap year basically, so I’m just trying to get as many tour starts as possible and maybe at the end of the year I’ll go to Q-School.
“Lydia was feeling ready, so she went.
“It’s not something that someone should push you to do. I think whenever it comes it’ll come.”
Despite some impressive driving around the sandbelt course, Lee, who in 2012 became the first Australian ever to win the US Girls Junior title, felt she needed to work on her strength.
With the gallery size going up as her score went down, she appeared to thrive in the spotlight after getting a taste with her success last week at Royal Pines.
Lee said she wasn’t thinking about winning or about filling the gaping hole between Australia’s top professional Karrie Webb and the next best ranked local almost 100 places below.
When asked about what else fun she had planned for her gap year replied, “This is fun isn’t it?”
She certainly made it look that way.