PETALING JAYA: South Korea’s K.H. Lee makes his bow in the US PGA Tour’s 2021-2022 season at this week’s Sanderson Farms Championship with three clear goals in his mind – secure a second Tour victory, break into the world’s top 50 and qualify for the International Team for the 2022 Presidents Cup against the United States.
The 30-year-old enjoyed his career-best season by placing 31st in the 2020-2021 FedExCup standings, which featured a breakthrough win at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May.
He narrowly missed qualifying for the season-finale Tour Championship by one spot after making bogey on the 72nd hole in the penultimate event, the BMW Championship.
Off the golf course, Lee was also over the moon as he and his wife, Joo Yeon-yu, welcomed the arrival of their first child, Celine Yuna Lee in July.
“The 2021 season was the best ever and I couldn’t be more ecstatic. It was my best year on the course, and we had a baby and just a lot of excitement. I also got a win and it was a very successful year,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the new season and the goal will be to have another victory and getting myself into the top 50 in the world.
“Playing for Korea, representing the International Team in the Presidents Cup next year would also be a huge ambition. I’m trying to focus on winning and if I can get into the top 50, it would probably assure me a spot in the Presidents Cup. I would be honoured beyond measure to represent my country.”
A strong line-up of Asian stars are in this week’s field at Country Club of Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi. It includes fellow Koreans Im Sung-jae, who finished runner-up here in 2019, Kang Sung-hoon, Kim Si-woo and Noh Seung-yul, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who finished tied second at the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour earlier this month, India’s Anirban Lahiri and Taiwan’s C.T. Pan. Spaniard Sergio Garcia will defend his title.
Lee got down to serious business during the short season-break to prepare himself for the new campaign. This has included hours in the gym and practice range to get stronger and faster as he looks to tick off his season’s goals.
“Just a lot of practice, spending countless of hours at Lake Nona and spending a lot of time in the gym to get my body in shape to be able to endure for the year ahead and not be physically fatigue,” said Lee, who is making his fourth appearance at the Sanderson with a tied 35 in 2018 being his best result.
“I’m trying to get my body in shape where I can gain some distance and be able to practise for longer hours without injuring myself.
“The off season seems like a down time for most golfers but for me, it’s been a lot of work on and off the golf course.”