Danny Lee (golfer)

Danny Lee

Lee after his Greenbrier Classic win in 2015
Personal information
Full name Danny Jin-Myung Lee
Born (1990-07-24) 24 July 1990
Incheon, South Korea
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight 168 lb (76 kg; 12.0 st)
Nationality  New Zealand
Residence Irving, Texas, U.S.
Turned professional 2009
Current tour(s) PGA Tour
Former tour(s) European Tour
Web.com Tour
Professional wins 3
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 1
European Tour 1
Asian Tour 1
PGA Tour of Australasia 1
Web.com Tour 1
Best results in major championships
Masters Tournament T17: 2016
U.S. Open T57: 2016
The Open Championship CUT: 2015, 2016
PGA Championship T43: 2015
Achievements and awards
Mark H. McCormack Medal 2008

Danny Jin-Myung Lee (이진명) (born 24 July 1990) is a New Zealand professional golfer. Lee was born in Incheon, South Korea, and emigrated to New Zealand at the age of eight.[1] He became a naturalized New Zealander[2] on 2 September 2008 at Rotorua, where he attended Rotorua Boys' High School.

Amateur career

Lee became the youngest ever winner of the U.S. Amateur in August 2008, aged 18 years and one month,[3] six months younger than Tiger Woods when he won in 1994. His age record was broken the following year by 17-year-old An Byeong-hun. He became number one in the World Amateur Golf Ranking on 20 August 2008 and remained number one until he turned pro in April 2009. He was awarded the 2008 Mark H. McCormack Medal on 27 August.[4]

In October, he represented New Zealand at the Eisenhower Trophy in Adelaide, Australia. A final round 11-over 84 saw him finish T37 in the individual standings.[5][6] The New Zealand team finished tied for 11th.[7]

In February 2009, Lee won the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia, a professional tournament co-sanctioned by the European, Asian, and Australasian tours. He was the youngest ever winner on the European Tour, surpassing Dale Hayes, and only the second amateur winner after Pablo Martín.[8][9][10] The win took him to 159th place in the Official World Golf Ranking.[11]

Lee's first major was the 2009 Masters Tournament, where his first round two-over 74 put him in a position to make the cut. In the second round he eagled the par-5 eighth and played the front nine in 34, but a six-putt led to quintuple bogey on the 10th, dropping him to five-over for the tournament. He was unable to recover, eventually finishing 11-over par.[12]

Professional career

2009: Bid for PGA Tour status falls short

Lee turned professional after the 2009 Masters Tournament,[13] forfeiting his guaranteed entry into the 2009 U.S. Open and the 2009 British Open as the 2008 U.S. Amateur champion.

In April, Lee signed a two-year endorsement contract with Callaway Golf, to use Callaway clubs, balls, and signage on his clothes. The company has not released how much his contract is worth, but sources say it is for US$1 million per year.[14]

Lee was allowed to use seven sponsor exemptions during the PGA Tour season, and gained three other starts courtesy of his U.S. Amateur and Johnnie Walker Classic titles. His goal was to earn $537,958 which would have given him temporary membership and allowed him to receive an unlimited amount of invitations.[15] That figure is the amount earned by the player who finished 150th on the 2008 money list.

Lee made six out of eleven PGA Tour cuts after turning pro, with two top-25 finishes. He tied for 13th at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in May, and improved on his best finish in a PGA Tour event by finishing in a tie for 7th at the AT&T National in July. That top ten finish earned Lee a spot in the following week's John Deere Classic, meaning he did not have to use one of his two remaining sponsor exemptions.[16] The money from his T-7 finish put him $187,904 away from earning temporary status on tour. Lee missed the cut by two strokes at the John Deere Classic after bogeying the last two holes of his second round. Lee missed the cut again three weeks later at the Buick Open.

In August, Lee became the youngest player to play in a World Golf Championship event when he played the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.[17] He finished T51 at the event. He made the cut but did not finish at the Wyndham Championship two weeks later. He used his last sponsor exemption of the season to play in that tournament and did not earn enough money on tour to earn his card for 2010.

Lee then switched his focus to the European Tour, as well as playing selected events in Asia. He made his maiden appearance as a professional in Europe at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles where he finished T10.[18] As a drawcard for the Korea Open and the Coca-Cola Tokai Classic in Japan, he played the first two rounds of both events with fellow teen prodigy Ryo Ishikawa.

Lee entered the PGA Tour's qualifying school at the first stage level,[19] beginning his campaign in McKinney, Texas on 20 October.[20] Needing to finish in roughly the top third of the field, rounds of 72-78-69-76 saw him fall well short of advancing to the second stage.[21]

After arriving back in Asia for the Singapore Open, Lee cited swing changes, illness and cold weather as reasons for his disappointing performance in Texas, and confirmed an intention to play mainly on the European Tour in 2010.[22] He also announced he had signed Korean-born Suckki Jang, an affiliate of Hank Haney, as his new coach.[23] He then played the WGC-HSBC Champions, the Hong Kong Open, and represented New Zealand with David Smail at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup, all with limited success.


Lee made a poor start to the 2010 season, making just two cuts in his first nine events on the European Tour.

On the eve of the BMW PGA Championship in May, Lee announced a new partnership with English caddy Peter Coleman, and a new coach, Bill Choung. "I finally feel that I am in the right position with my swing and that has got me really excited," Lee said.[24]

However, after receiving a sponsor's invite to play the RBC Canadian Open in July, Lee stated he was now without a swing coach. He added that he had been through several coaches since turning professional and had perhaps become too technical with his mechanics, and was now trying to focus more on playing than tweaking his swing.[25]

Lee eventually finished the Race to Dubai in 159th place, making 10 out of 20 cuts with a best finish of T21 at the BMW International Open in June.[26]

Late in the year, he successfully negotiated the first two stages of PGA Tour qualifying school in California.[27][28] At the final stage in Florida, Lee shot rounds of 74-72-69-65-72-74 to finish T64.[29] His placing earned him full Nationwide Tour playing rights, allowing him to plan a 35-event, two-tour itinerary for 2011.[30]


Lee began a noticeable return to form a couple of months into the new year. A tie for 7th in the Chitimacha Louisiana Open was followed by a strong showing for 54 holes at the Malaysian Open, eventually being disqualified for signing an incorrect final round scorecard (denying him a tie for 17th).[31] The next week he tied for 2nd at the Volvo China Open, four shots behind winner Nicolas Colsaerts.[32]

In May, a tie for 5th in the Stadion Classic at UGA was followed by an outright third at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, lifting him to 10th on the Nationwide Tour's money list.[33]

In June he injured his left wrist during an Open Championship qualifier, forcing his withdrawal and a four-week break from competition.[34] Diagnosed as tendonitis, he worked with his caddy in American events, Jeff Belen, on grip and swing adjustments.[35] By early September he had posted three further Nationwide Tour top-10 finishes, including a tie for 2nd at the Cox Classic.

In early October Lee won the WNB Golf Classic in Texas, beating Harris English in a playoff. The $94,500 first prize lifted him to 4th on the money list, assuring him of a place inside the final money list's top 25, those being the players who gain PGA Tour cards for the following season.

"It feels great to win again," Lee said. "I haven't won a tournament since I won the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic and it's a great feeling. It's not easy to win and I worked really hard with my uncle and my coach (Bill Choung) for this. I'm really happy it worked."[36] Lee credited the switch to a belly putter in this event as beneficial, and came after pulling out of the previous week's event after 27 holes citing his wrist injury.[37]

Lee finished sixth on tour with earnings of $326,100, making 13 of 18 cuts with nine top-10s. He had the season's lowest scoring average of 68.98.


Lee entered the new season with PGA Tour and European Tour cards. He said he was still keen to play a two-tour schedule, however his main focus would be on America.[38] He made only 13 cuts in 26 events on the PGA Tour and lost his tour card. He did not play on the European Tour.

After striking up a successful partnership late in the Nationwide Tour season, Lee said he would have Australian Graeme Courts, a former long-time caddy of Loren Roberts, working for him on the PGA Tour.[39]

K. J. Choi introduced Lee to another Australian, Steve Bann, as a potential coach. "I am close with K.J. Choi and he said I was thinking too much about my swing," Lee said. "I was always working on something and I am too technical sometimes so K.J. introduced me to Steve. Steve is a simple guy who is teaching me how to practise with better routine and how to trust my own game and not think too much.[40]


Lee played on the Web.com Tour in 2013, finishing 15th on the regular season money list to regain his PGA Tour card for 2014. His best finish was second at the Rex Hospital Open.


On the back of six straight missed cuts, Lee adopted a claw putting grip for the Puerto Rico Open in March. He credited the change of putting style for yielding him an instant result; a runner-up finish, two shots behind winner Chesson Hadley.[41]


In the 2015 PGA Tour fall season, Lee finished third at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. In the spring, he finished seventh at the Valspar Championship and tenth at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. He won his first PGA Tour event in July at the Greenbrier Classic. The next week he finished fourth at the John Deere Classic. In August he finished fourth at the Quicken Loans National and sixth at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. With a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship, he finished 9th in the FedEx Cup standings.

Amateur wins (7)

Professional wins (3)

PGA Tour wins (1)

No.DateTournamentWinning scoreMargin of
1 5 Jul 2015 Greenbrier Classic −13 (63-69-68-67=267) Playoff Canada David Hearn, United States Kevin Kisner
United States Robert Streb

PGA Tour playoff record (1–0)

1 2015 Greenbrier Classic Canada David Hearn, United States Kevin Kisner, United States Robert Streb Won with par on second extra hole
Kisner and Streb eliminated with birdie on first hole

European Tour wins (1)

No.DateTournamentWinning scoreMargin of
1 22 Feb 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic (as an amateur)
(co-sanctioned with the Asian and Australasian Tours)
−17 (67-68-69-67=271) 1 stroke Chile Felipe Aguilar, Japan Hiroyuki Fujita,
England Ross McGowan

Nationwide Tour wins (1)

No.DateTournamentWinning scoreMargin of
1 2 Oct 2011 WNB Golf Classic −18 (64-72-68-66=270) Playoff United States Harris English

Results in major championships

Tournament 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Masters Tournament CUT DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T17
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T43 T56

DNP = Did not play
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Yellow background for top-10

Results in World Golf Championship events

Results not in chronological order prior to 2015.

Cadillac Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T42
Bridgestone Invitational T51 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T6 56

DNP = Did not play
QF, R16, R32, R64 = Round in which player lost in match play
"T" = tied
Yellow background for top-10.

PGA Tour and European Tour career summary

PGA Tour European Tour
Season Wins Earnings ($) Money list Wins Earnings () Order of Merit
2009 0 359,846 n/a † 1 110,543 164
2010 0 0 0 88,257 159
2011 0 0 0 358,477 84
2012 0 359,112 166 0 0
2013 0 112,000 n/a † 0 0
2014 0 781,295 120 0 0
2015 1 3,965,933 11 0 233,265 n/a †
2016* 0 1,405,722 75 0 477,951 n/a †
Career* 1 6,983,908 221 1 1,359,562 n/a

* Complete as of 25 September 2016.
† Lee was not ranked because he was not a member.

Team appearances



See also


  1. 2008 U.S. Amateur - Meet The Quarterfinalists
  2. "Golf: Danny Lee now officially a Kiwi". The New Zealand Herald. 2 September 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  3. U.S. Amateur: Move over Tiger, Lee supplants Woods
  4. Danny Lee secures McCormack Medal after US Amateur win
  5. 2008 Eisenhower Trophy, individual leaderboard
  6. "Danny Lee's $100m dilemma". The New Zealand Herald. 4 January 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  7. http://www.golfstatresults.com/public/leaderboards/team/static/team1288.html 2008 Eisenhower Trophy, team leaderboard
  8. Lee wins Johnnie Walker Classic
  9. "Golf: Lee in dreamland after stunning win at Johnnie Walker Classic". The New Zealand Herald. 22 February 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  10. Lee pulls off upset win
  11. Week 8 - Phil Mickelson Retains the Northern Trust Open Title and Moves up to World Number Three
  12. "Danny Lee ready to turn pro after Masters meltdown". The New Zealand Herald. 11 April 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  13. World #1 Danny Lee Turns Pro
  14. Danny Lee joins Callaway
  15. Lee trying to earn temporary status on Tour
  16. Lee qualifies for John Deere Classic
  17. PGA Tour advice is good and bad for teenager Lee
  18. "Danny Lee reflects on last round mixture". Stuff.co.nz. 31 August 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  19. 2009 Q-School application form
  20. Q-School tournament info page: McKinney, TX
  21. Q-School leaderboard: McKinney, TX
  22. McGuire, Bernie (29 October 2009). "Lee switches focus to Europe". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  23. "Lee signs coach with Tiger connections". Television New Zealand. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  24. McGuire, Bernie (18 May 2010). "New caddy, coach boost Danny Lee". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  25. Remember Danny Lee?
  26. 2010 European Tour results
  27. Q-School Stage 1 leaderboard
  28. Q-School Stage 2 leaderboard
  29. Q-School Final Stage leaderboard
  30. Davidson, Martin (1 April 2011). "Craig Perks warns Danny Lee over burnout". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  31. "Danny Lee disqualified from Malaysian Open". Stuff.co.nz. 19 April 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  32. "Danny Lee claims share of second in China". Stuff.co.nz. 25 April 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  33. 2011 Nationwide Tour money list
  34. Wrist Injury a Worry for Danny Lee
  35. "Nationwide Tour's Rising Star" video
  36. WNB Golf Classic R4 wrap-up
  37. WNB Golf Classic, R1 wrap-up
  38. Danny Lee learning his lessons
  39. "Lee could miss out playing NZ Open". NZPA. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  40. "Lee Turns to Aussie Coach". AAP. 13 January 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  41. "Danny Lee Riding Confidence At Copperhead". NPR. The Associated Press. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2014.

External links

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