The beginner player takes FIVE swings to find the fairway, crashes out of the fight

Min Woo Lee’s wild drive on the 11th hole on Sunday put him in a bad position.

getty images/PGA Tour

Min Woo Lee didn’t know much about the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass before making his Players Championship debut this week.

But he knew something.

“All I know is that it was scary,” Lee said Saturday night after signing a six-under 66 that propelled him to within two of Scottie Scheffler’s 54-hole lead. “I mean, Sawgrass is scary. There are many times when people have faltered and you don’t want to be one of them. But as long as you can control your emotions and go out and have fun, which I did, it was fun to play really good golf.”

More fun seemed to be on the way on Sunday when Lee, who played alongside the reigning Masters champion in the final pairing, held his approach on the par-4 1st-6 feet and bagged the birdie putt to deny Scheffler’s lead to halve.

Two holes later, Lee grabbed part of the lead when Scheffler bogeyed the third par 3 and Lee made a bad par.


But then came the watery 392-yard par 4 at number 4. After blocking his shot into the right rough, Lee was forced to pitch back into the fairway and just short of the water guarding the green. He was only 92 yards from the hole for his third shot, but his wedge shot only flew 74 yards, hitting the front of the green and spinning back into the water. kerplunk.

It all resulted in a triple bogey 7 and Lee was back in pursuit mode.

“It went very quickly,” he said after his lap. “It’s one of those things where it’s Sunday and you just make some bad decisions and it kind of all falls into place.”

In fact, it was the kind of messy hole in the biggest lap of his life that could have sent Lee reeling. But he kept his composure and played evenly for the next six holes. The problem was that Scheffler had started doing Scheffler things, birdieing 8, 9 and 10 to take control of the tournament.

When the pair got to the par-five 11th, Scheffler was six ahead of Lee and four ahead of clubhouse leader Tyrrell Hatton, who was 12-under. Lee had to make a move, and fast. Instead, he uncorked what might have been his worst swing of the week and hooked his drive shot deep into the pines to the left of the fairway.

Lee could have gone high or low with his recovery shot. He went up and cut a branch, his ball falling back into the barky prison it came from. Now hitting three, he still had no clear route back to the fairway and hit a chunky shot out of the pine straw. His ball advanced just 36 feet — and quiet Lee had no clear route back to safety. He hit his fourth shot under encroaching branches and over a bunker on the left side of the fairway. His ball barely carried the sand and landed in the left rough. After four Swing, Lee still hadn’t found the fairway.

Min Woo Lee’s mishaps on the 11th hole.

PGA Tour

He hung up on his fifth shot and let himself a 30-yard pitch, which he bounced for a double bogey 7.

It’s hard to win a Tour event with a pair of hockey sticks on the map — let alone the Players Championship — and that was the case with Lee on Sunday.

“It’s funny how yesterday I felt like I had the best swing in the world,” he said Sunday night, “and then today I just felt like nothing could work out.”

Well, not Nothing.

A born showman, Lee had been playing in front of the stands all week, and when he arrived on the stage, which is the rowdy par-3 17th hole of the Stadium Course, Lee had a rabbit up his sleeve: a high soft fade, which touched down gently on the island green, caught the drop to the left of the hole and rolled to within five feet of the cup, drawing roars from the crowd.

“It’s hard to hold an audience when you’ve just done triple-bogey and double-bogie and you’re trying to keep your head up,” Lee said. “But just for a second you just have to stop and really look at the crowd and you’re here for a reason and you did it really well and yeah that was probably the most people I’ve ever seen on a hole , to 17, so it was pretty cool.”

Lee signed for a four-over-76 to take sixth place, nine behind Scheffler.

“I’m pretty proud of the result and I think it will take me a long way,” said Lee. “It could have been a lot worse. That’s for sure. It was’nt easy. That’s part of it.”


Alan Bastable Editor

As Editor-in-Chief of, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and trafficked news and services sites. He carries many responsibilities – editing, writing, ideation, development, daydreaming about turning 80 one day – and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hard-working group of writers, editors and producers. Before taking the reins at, he was a features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and four children. The beginner player takes FIVE swings to find the fairway, crashes out of the fight

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