Lee could miss out playing NZ Open

By Craig Tiriana, sport@dailypost.co.nz


Kiwi golfer Danny Lee isn't sure he'll be teeing it up at this year's New Zealand Open.

Speaking from his United States base in Texas this week, the 21-year-old Nationwide Tour graduate confirmed the matter still hadn't been decided.

"I don't think I'll make the New Zealand Open. I've got events in Singapore and Malaysia and Hong Kong, which is at the same time as the New Zealand Open," said Lee who will play on the US PGA Tour next year.

Lee has commercial commitments with Callaway Golf and clothing company E Lord which his managers IMG would balance against his preferred playing schedule in making the final decision.

If the former New Zealand amateur champion does not get back to play in New Zealand he is still hopeful a holiday back in Rotorua around Christmas with family will happen.

Lee has just finished his final Nationwide event and said he was looking forward to a short break at home with his family before he starts building towards a first full season on the world's toughest golfing stage.

"I'm really curious about what position I'm in and that I can compete," he said.

Lee has mixed at this level before, taking the hard option of trying to earn a full card through winning enough money before settling back into the second tier Nationwide Tour this year.

Lee played 11 events in 2009, earning US$359,846 to finish 20 spots outside a top 125 exemption.

Now armed with a Nationwide win and a bucket of strong performances, Lee is in a far better position for next year as a fully exempt player alongside the game's global best like Brit Luke Donald, Australian Adam Scott and a heap of competition-hardened Americans.

"I think I've improved quite a lot... My body is great. My wrist got better. I'm starting to work out really hard and improving all the time."

He has also formed a good partnership with his experienced Australian caddy Graeme Cout who has been with him this season and will be on the bag next year. Cout used to work with American professional Loren Roberts.

Lee has earned US$326,100 from just 13 events on the Nationwide Tour to finish sixth on that list, the top 25 earning promotion to the USPGA Tour.

He led the Nationwide statistics in scoring and par breaking which reconfirms the former world amateur number one has the ability to play in top company.

In a stunning season, he carded an incredible 275 birdies (4.66 per round) and the only category he was behind the tour average was driving accuracy. He won the WNB Classic, his first as a professional and two years since he won the Johnnie Walker Classic as an amateur.

"I hadn't won a golf tournament for a while. Obviously it was great to do it [again] and good for my golf career and sponsors."

2011 NATIONWIDE KEY STATS

Danny Lee average, *Nationwide average

Scoring Average: (Actual) 68.98, *70.73

Driving Distance: 304.9, *294.6

Driving Accuracy percentage: 59.48 per cent, *64.06 per cent

Greens in Regulation percentage: 72.54 per cent, *68.29 per cent

Scrambling: 64.50 per cent, *57.32 per cent

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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