Min Woo leads as Spanish love affair continues – Golf Australia Magazine
Lee, one of the brightest young talents in the Australian men’s game, reckoned he was still feeling on a high after his best performance of the season at the Open De Espana as he swept to a five-under-par opening round 66 on one of his favourite courses at Valderrama.
It left the 24-year-old one of five players topping the leaderboard alongside England’s David Horsey, Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen and Spain’s Pep Angles.
Lee had pushed Jon Rahm all the way in the Spanish Open in Madrid last week before fading on Sunday’s home stretch, eventually coming home third for his best finish of the season.
“I was carrying in heaps (of momentum from last week),” said Lee, who’s eyeing his third DP World Tour title after finishing second at Valderrama last year.
“I knew coming into this week that I love this course and the vibes here, so keeping it going was going to happen – I just feel good about this course. It’s the toughness of it that suits my eye.” – Min Woo Lee.
“I just didn’t have the focus in the last six holes on Sunday but, looking at the positive side, I played wonderful for those first 60 holes.
“I knew coming into this week that I love this course and the vibes here, so keeping it going was going to happen – I just feel good about this course. It’s the toughness of it that suits my eye.
“I have a really good short game around here – something about the grass I guess – and made up and down quite a few times. It just frees up my iron play and long game.”
Setting off from the 10th, Lee, who’s seeking a third European Tour win, holed a 10 footer at the 12th for birdie, before his round’s highlight – an eagle at the 17th with a spectacular holed putt from the fringe from about 50ft.
A couple of dropped shots, after he’d found the water at the 4th and sand at the 5th, were then offset by a final flourish, as Lee birdied his last two holes with putts of 4ft and 11ft respectively.
US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick had a poor start to the defence of his crown, struggling to a 74 lie eight behind the five co-leaders.
“I just felt like I got Valderrama-ed today,” Fitzpatrick said wryly.
Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre, who won the Italian Open last month, was well-placed one shot off the lead alongside Spain’s Adrian Otaegui.
But beyond Lee, the Australian challenge was tepid, with Queenslander Maverick Antcliff the next best placed in joint-50th after a two-over 73, while Jason Scrivener and Scott Hend both shot 74s.