Girls' Jr. Champ Minjee Lee Transcript


By USGA
July 21, 2012

THE MODERATOR:  Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us.  I'm glad to have Minjee Lee, winner of the 64th U.S. Girls' Junior Championship.  Minjee, you were saying it's a bit of a blur and it will sink in tonight.  But tell us what you're feeling?

MINJEE LEE:  I'm so relieved that it's over.  I was so tense coming in to the last couple of holes.  I was down and then I was up.  Then, yeah, I was sort of thinking when I was back at the hotel I was thinking about it, so, yeah.

Q.  What was the tougher match, today or yesterday?  

MINJEE LEE:  Probably today.  Yeah, definitely today.  I wasn't ‑‑ yeah, yesterday there was no comeback.  Like Alison came back after 18 holes, and she played much better in the afternoon and she gave me a run for my money.

Q.  What was it after the 12th hole?  You had 3, and obviously everything kind of changed there.  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, well, I thought I was going to lose, honestly.  I was like how do I get back up from here?  But, yeah, I just pulled myself together and I was like just go for it.  You've got an opening.  Yeah, just take your chances and then go from there.

Q.  Did you play consciously more aggressively the next few holes?  

MINJEE LEE:  I think I just played smart, like middle of the greens and just putt it close and made my two putts.

Q.  Is that one of the biggest comebacks you ever had in a match?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, probably.  Yeah, I can't think of anything else, yeah.

Q.  So was there anything to draw ‑‑ I guess you answered this in some ways ‑‑ but was there anything to draw on the 13 tee?  Were there any similar comebacks that you said I did it before, I can do it again?  

MINJEE LEE:  Not really, no.  I haven't really been in this kind of situation, like this situation, not often.  I learned something about myself today.

Q.  You got up‑and‑down when you had to.  But your coach says your game normally tee to green, that's where you're strong.  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah.  Normally I hit pretty straight.  But my irons weren't really working today.  I had to chip a lot and make my up‑and‑downs.

Q.  Can you talk about what happened in January?  The time the girl didn't speak English and you told her to go one way, and she went the other, and you fell out of it and broke your ankle?  

MINJEE LEE:  That's not actually what happened.  We were in a cart and it was slippery, and I was trying to pick up the golf ball from inside the cart, so I was like crouching.  Then I lost grip, and she went one way, and I flew out the other way.  It wasn't even that bad, but I just landed in a funny angle.

Q.  But you were out for ‑‑ you broke your right ankle?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, I fractured it in two places.

Q.  You said you learned something about yourself today.  Can you articulate what?  

MINJEE LEE:  Just that I can do it, like my comeback, and yeah, that's what I believe, and I believe in myself.

Q.  When did you get back to hitting golf balls after the injury?  Did you think you were going to be able to play this summer? 

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, it was ages ago.  It was like January, so.  Probably April or something.  I don't know.  Three months after that I was hitting golf balls, really.  I started getting back into it.

This is probably like my first set of big tournaments or just tournaments in general.

Q.  You said that Torrey Pines was your first big event back.  

MINJEE LEE:  I had like little team events and stuff before Callaway.  But, yeah, Callaway was probably the biggest one after.

Q.  When you're out that long though, a couple of months, it's tough to get back and get rid of the rust.  Did you feel like you got out the rust last week?  Did you feel like you were in good form coming through?  That you were in good shape?  

MINJEE LEE:  Well, I think I could like just refuel, because I haven't had a break in ages, so I had the best break.  Then I just came out even stronger, and I could do things that I never could have done in my swing technically.

Yeah, I have a few projects in mind.  Like trying to fix my swing.  I'm getting better.

Q.  So your break was a good break?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, it was.  I wouldn't do that for a break, but just taking it the easy way.

Q.  Before that, how long a break had you had, and when was the last time you had a long one?  

MINJEE LEE:  Probably never.  I've never had a break that long.  Like even a week is like too long.  So like a couple of days was probably my longest break.

Q.  It seems like there's been a lot of male golfers coming from Australia, but not that many female.  Karrie Webb had a Hall of Fame career but not that many women.  How much is that changing, and how important is it to you to take that next step when you get older?  

MINJEE LEE:  I think it's kind of changing.  They're trying to promote junior girls' golf.  There are a couple of golfers that are girls on the national squad.  There are a handful of really good junior girls coming through.  So, yeah, I think it will be a lot of good players coming up.

Q.  I guess my first question would be why do you think there are more on the men's side than the women's side?  

MINJEE LEE:  Probably because there are more guys playing.  There is more competition, and guys want to beat each other.  So, yeah, I just think it's that.  Obviously, like Tiger Woods and all of the role models like Rory McIlroy.

Q.  Who was your golf role model?  

MINJEE LEE:  Tiger Woods, yeah, and Rory McIlroy.

Q.  Was Karrie?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, Karrie's a big idol.  But I still like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

Q.  Why?  

MINJEE LEE:  Because they just are amazing golfers.  You can't really comprehend how good they are.  All of the golfers on Tour are really amazing, but I still like Tiger Woods.

  

Q.  Are you liking Tiger over Adam Scott?  If Tiger and Adam Scott are duelling down the stretch in the British Open, who do you go for?  

MINJEE LEE:  Tiger Woods.

Q.  Really?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, Tiger Woods has always been ‑‑ yeah, regardless whatever he does in his personal life, yeah, I still.

Q.  So is there no connection to Adam Scott?  

MINJEE LEE:  Oh, yeah, he's good looking.  Yes, but I think his swing is one of the best.  I really do, yeah.

Q.  But wouldn't it mean a lot for Australian golf if he won tomorrow?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, definitely.  He's really a really, really big role model in golf, and junior golf.  Just golf in general in Australia.  Yeah, I think it would be a pretty big impact.

Q.  I'm curious how this is covering.  Are the newspapers picking up what you've done?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, I think it's night time or something right now.  I'm not sure.

Q.  Probably the next day? 

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah.  I'm not sure.  Like this morning it was at night, their night, so, yeah.

Q.  The papers picked it up?  

MINJEE LEE:  Probably not yet.  It will probably be a couple of days later.

Q.  Do you get a lot of attention from the press?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yes, in Perth they do stories and like in the local paper and state paper.

Q.  How big will this get played up?  

MINJEE LEE:  I don't know.  I don't know.  It is big.

Q.  It's big.  The Girl's U.S. Championship of the World.  

MINJEE LEE:  I think it will be a story or two.

Q.  Where does this rank in your career highlights for you? 

MINJEE LEE:  It's up there, because this is totally ‑‑ I haven't even won an Aussie Open, and I've won a U.S.  It's really up there, yeah.

Q.  You're missing quite a bit of school to be here because you've been in the U.S. for a few weeks to play in the Amateur.  How does that work out? 

MINJEE LEE:  I have my books, but I haven't studied much.

Q.  You're home schooled, right?  

MINJEE LEE:  No, I go to private school (Corpus Christi College (Grade 11).

Q.  Can you just email in your assignments?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, they always give me tests and assignments and stuff when I get back, so I have to do my assignments.  Like my assessments when I get back.

Q.  What is the name of the school?  

MINJEE LEE:  Corpus Chrsti College.

Q.  Did you take a picture with the trophy?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, I'll be like here you go.  Yeah, probably Golf Australia, I guess.

Q.  Some pretty big names and Hall of Fame players on that thing? 

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, there are like seven or eight Aussies, so, yeah.

Q.  You're the eighth Aussie to win a USGA Championship period, ever, any Championship? 

MINJEE LEE:  Oh.  I thought ‑‑ oh, okay.

Q.  You're only the third Aussie woman to win a USGA Championship.  

MINJEE LEE:  Oh, I totally misunderstood that.

Q.  You're the first Aussie to win that one.  

MINJEE LEE:  I'm very honored.

Q.  You told me you wouldn't have come here had the rankings not allowed you.  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, I was going to play the Trans National or some other amateur, because that's what we first scheduled out because it was good timing and everything, but then this U.S. Amateur was here.

Now this was like a last minute tournament, so I was like, why not.  But, yeah, Brad James was USGA tournament.  Play USGA tournament if you get a chance.  If you can get in, then definitely play because they're really professional and they're really good.

Q.  He's the former University of Minnesota golf coach?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, and he's the Australia something.  Yeah.

Q.  He would know?  

MINJEE LEE:  He's like the boss guy, but David is the boss guy of him.

Q.  And Ritchie Smith is your coach?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, and he's our national coach.  There is Bree Elliott who is with me, and then Whitney Hillier and Ashley Ona, and then there is (Indiscernible) and Kathleen.  Yeah, that's it.

Q.  So you're one of six?  

MINJEE LEE:  I think, yeah.

Q.  Coach was saying you look like you're pretty solid to play in Turkey this fall, too? 

MINJEE LEE:  Hopefully I've secured my spot with this win.  Yeah, I would really like to get on that team.  And we've been there.  In May or something, we went and we checked the course out.  So, yeah.  It's nice.  It's very good, yeah.

Q.  So you do quite a bit of traveling? 

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah.

Q.  That's a little different than most of the American girls.  They play very much in the states.  I don't think a lot of people can fathom how much travel you and your teammates do.  You travel big distances? 

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, we do lots of traveling.  There are not many really big tournaments in Australia.  Like New Zealand is probably our closest competitive league, then there are other countries, but they're all little amateurs.  Yeah, so, America is the major tournament.

Q.  Have you gotten into some of the bigger events when you broke your ankle and you had to miss?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, that was not like the biggest one.  But it's just like a State open.  But the Aussie Open and The Masters, yeah, I missed them.

Q.  Did you have a sponsors exemption into those?  

MINJEE LEE:  No, I won something.  I won Handa, the New Zealand Masters to get a spot for both, but they didn't hold the Handa Junior Masters this year, so I think I have to qualify.  But I'll find a way.

Q.  Are you thinking about maybe going to college in the States or will it be in Australia at all? 

MINJEE LEE:  In Australia for golf and academics?  In Australia, there are no actual golf comes, so if I'm going to go to college, I'll go in America.

Q.  I'm sure a few letters will be air mailed the first half of this week? 

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, may take a couple of days to get there.

Q.  You're in Perth or just out of Perth? 

MINJEE LEE:  Not in the city, but like 15 minutes.

Q.  Right outside of Perth?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yes.

Q.  And you were born there?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yes.

Q.  Nick O'Hern lives there, right? 

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, I think so, or not.  I'm not sure.  I know Greg Chalmers is from Perth.  He used to play at my golf club.

Q.  And you're 16; is that correct?  

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah.

 

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