If there’s a tournament to which to bring your A-game, the US Amateur would be it.
The most prestigious tournament in men’s amateur golf tees off tonight at the stunning Californian coastal courses of Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill, where so many names have delivered on the biggest of stages.
The US Amateur has been a happy hunting ground for Western Australian golfers, most notably and recently, Curtis Luck. The Cottesloe member clinched the most important win of his fledging career in 2016, defeating American Brad Dalke in the match play final at Oakland Country Club.
That helped catapult the 20-year-old into professional golf — and he hasn’t looked back.
Next week, another West Australian will nominally lead eight Autralian hopefuls into battle.
Min Woo Lee, of Royal Fremantle, has twice played the illustrious event and twice missed out on reaching the match play phase, a trend he is desperate to change.
The former US Junior champion sits 12th in the world amateur rankings and, after reaching the business end of the Western Amateur in Chicago 10 days ago, the Sandgroper seems set to rectify that record.“Last week was a huge confidence booster for me,” Lee said.
“The Western Amateur is the top amateur field as it’s an invitational event.
“I had been struggling a bit (before then) and haven’t been able to post good scores or play anywhere near as well as I would have liked.
“(So) it’s great to get some confidence ahead of the big one.”
The famous trophy is littered with many of the game’s greats, with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickleson and Jack Nicklaus all former winners.
Having previously played the tournament, Lee knows of the history and tradition that comes with participating at the USGA-run event.
“It’s a really special week to be honest,” he said.
“Particularly this year given the tournament is being played at Pebble Beach and Spyglass.”
“Hopefully I play well and it will definitely be one of my favourite weeks.”
Despite having little success at the US Amateur previously, Lee has seen his game progress to another level in the past 12 months, competing strongly against some of the world’s best amateurs as well as in professional tournaments.
“I am definitely a better player than the last two years and it’s the tournament that all the players want to do well in,” he said.
“Most importantly, you just need to post good scores in the stoke play (two rounds) and then (it’s) game on in the match play.
“I trust my own game and I know I can compete with these guys. It’s really exciting times.”