Wyndham Cup: Andrea Lee ready to rep the West
When: July 24-26
Where: Bay Hill Golf Club, Orlando, Fla.
West Team players: Boys – Connor Black, Sam Burns, Brad Dalke, Branson Davis, Zecheng Dou, Thomas Lim, Clayton Madey, Brandon Pierce, Scott Scheffler, Dylan Wu
Girls – Hee Wook Choi, Allisen Corpuz, Alison Lee, Amy Lee, Andrea Lee, Esther Lee, Summar Roachell, Sierra Sims, Jessica Vasilic, Lindsey Weaver
West Team record: 12-9-1
Andrea Lee is anything but the typical 13-year-old golfer.
While players her age are still trying to learn the basic fundamentals, rules and etiquette of the game, Lee is quickly becoming one of the best junior players in the country.
Lee, from Hermosa Beach, Calif., has five top 10s in her last seven AJGA events and is currently No. 11 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings and No. 5 in the Polo Golf Rankings.
In 12 AJGA events, Lee has a scoring average of 73.38, with her best finish coming at the 2011 ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior, a second-place finish.
“My goal last year was to get top 20 (in the Polo Golf Rankings),” said Lee. “But I’ve accomplished a lot more.”
She has gotten there, in part, by modeling her attitude after one of the LPGA’s more decorated players.
“I look up to Na Yeon Choi,” Lee said. “She’s always calm and stays positive during her rounds, and I really like that about her. She won the U.S. Open, so I was really happy for her.”
Lee, soon-to-be freshman at Mira Costa High School, has been playing golf since she was 5 years old. She began competing in tournaments just three years later. For the past six years, she has worked with PGA Professional Donald Brown, who teaches out of Harbor Golf Practice Center in Wilmington, Calif.
“He just tells me not to think about my swing at all during my tournaments – just when I practice,” said Lee.
Lee’s biggest strength might be her ability to just “go out and play.” She’s not so concerned about trying to execute the “perfect swing” instead of posting the best score possible. That’s a different perspective than many of her peers. It speaks to her maturity.
“I don’t really care about my swing,” Lee said. “I just have to play with what I have.”
And this summer, she will be playing a lot.
Lee was picked to represent the United States overseas at the Junior Open Championship in Lancashire, England. She made that trip with fellow junior Joshua Martin of Pinehurst, N.C., and ended it with a day of spectating at the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Lee’s first start upon returning to the states, will be the Wyndham Cup, which features 40 of the country’s best juniors, and is one of the most coveted junior tournaments of the summer. The event features an East vs. West set-up, as 10 boys and 10 girls from each side of the Mississippi are chosen to compete based on standings in the Polo Golf Rankings. Rankings are based on high finishes in national junior events.
It’s quite the honor for even the most accomplished golfer to make the field, but for Lee, the youngest player on either team, it’s even more impressive.
“It is really special,” Lee said. “I felt really great about myself. It gives me more confidence to do well and that I can do so much more in golf. I’m really excited to play, especially because I’m the youngest one.”
Lee will have the opportunity to pair up with fellow West Coast teammates in both best ball and alternate shot. As for partners, she rattled off a few names of friends and players with whom she plays practice rounds. She thinks she would make the best fit with Esther Lee, Alison Lee or Hee Wook Choi.
Esther Lee, who is No. 13 in the Polo Golf Rankings and has verbally committed to Duke, certainly wouldn’t mind teeing it up with Andrea.
“I would like to play with her,” Esther said. “Her short game is amazing. Her putting is amazing. She would definitely contribute to the team.”
Esther is a veteran when it comes to the Cup, returning for the second consecutive year. She doesn’t take it lightly, and neither do the other players.
“There’s definitely trash talking out there,” Esther said. “But it’s friendly trash talking. I think on the surface, it’s friendly competition – we’re all friends. But beneath it we want to win.”
Coming off a sizeable defeat in the 2011 Wyndham Cup, Esther thinks it might be another uphill battle for the West team.
“I feel as if the girls are pretty evenly matched,” Esther said. “But the East side for the guys, on paper, definitely looks stronger. But I think we can pull through. I think our guys will step up.”
Not many golfers have been stronger of late than Andrea Lee. To put that in perspective, consider that she has yet to take a single high school class.
“I’m pretty proud of myself that I’ve been doing so well,” Andrea said. “I just hope that this year will be a great year again. I’m just going for more top 5s. And maybe one day I’ll win one.”