Korea's Lee seeking his own major glory
published : 19 May 2022 at 04:00
newspaper section: Sports
Tulsa: In-form South Korean KH Lee recalls the iconic moment when countryman YE Yang triumphantly carried his golf bag over his head after producing one of the greatest upsets in major golf history at the 2009 PGA Championship.
He is now dreaming of producing his own major moment.
A few days after repeating as champion at the Byron Nelson for his second PGA Tour victory on Sunday, Lee, 30, will tee up in the PGA Championship at Southern Hills today feeling buoyant ahead of the year's second major.
He will spearhead a strong Asian challenge which includes the likes of Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, India's Anirban Lahiri and fellow Koreans Kim Si-Woo, Kim Joo-Hyung and Yang.
"It's always exciting to play in a major. Second time winning, I feel I can handle my emotions better. I feel everything is in good shape. My coach, Chris [Mayson] has helped get my game back on track and my putting was about as good as it's ever felt. I'm very excited, I feel like I'm up to the challenge this time," said Lee.
This will be his sixth appearance in a major which he has yet to make a weekend cut but the manner in which he successfully defended his Byron Nelson title where he held off the likes of Jordan Spieth with a winning aggregate of 26-under 262 has given him a huge dose of confidence.
Lee has vivid memories of Yang taking Tiger Woods down in a memorable head-to-head duel some 13 years ago at Hazeltine to deliver Asia's first major winner.
"I don't quite remember what I was doing then when YE won the PGA, but what I do remember was him hoisting his golf bag," recalled Lee. "I hope I can do something that exciting. It showed a lot of pure joy. I don't know if I have that in me but I guess we'll find out. Hopefully when I win a major, I can do something exciting as well.
"He's definitely opened the door and paved the way for us younger generation Koreans and it definitely gives me confidence in knowing YE has won the PGA Championship. And then, we had Hideki winning the Masters last year and it's helpful for me moving forward," he added.
Lee played in his first PGA Championship at Kiawah Island after winning the Byron Nelson 12 months ago but missed the halfway cut, largely due to fatigue following a long week at TPC Craig Ranch which endured weather disruptions.
He knows Southern Hills will pose a true test of skill and character and he is up to the challenge. "The fact that we don't have to travel that far, just going up the road to Tulsa, I feel like it is going to help me," he said.