If this year couldn’t get any better for Rachel Lee, then qualifying for this week’s ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open at The Australian and The Lakes Golf Clubs may have thrown that notion completely out of the window.
Lee, part of both the Junior and Senior NSW Teams, which swept the Australian Interstate Teams Titles at the beginning of the year, picked up her first professional win just last Monday in the first Women’s NSW Open Golf Regional Qualifying Tournament at Mollymook.
The Avondale Golf Club young gun followed the biggest win of her young career by qualifying for her first Women’s Australian Open, courtesy of a handy one-under par effort yesterday at Ryde-Parramatta.
Cue today’s practice round at The Australian Golf Club, and Lee got to experience another pinch-yourself moment; 18 holes of golf with her idol, former world number one Jiyai Shin.
“She is my hero; she’s a super nice person,” Lee beamed. “She is really confident; her shot-making and course management are excellent.”
Lee said it had been a revealing experience seeing the detail Shin put into her practice round.
“Her attention to detail is excellent. She’s mapping out every green and working on where to hit every shot to leave herself in the best spot.”
Shin, former world number one and the 2013 Women’s Australian Open Champ, was effusive in her praise for her young playing partner’s game.
“I’m surprised at how strong she is, “Shin, the 2013 Women’s Australian Open Champ said.
“She has a great opportunity to see what she needs to learn to get to the next level, especially with the men and women playing together here.”
Shin was not completely surprised to hear that Lee had picked up her first victory just last week against a professional field.
“I didn’t know she had a win, that is so good. I must congratulate her.”
Shin, who has spent almost two decades at the top of the women’s game globally, was to the point when asked about what she thought the 16-year-old could do to continue her climb towards her goal of competing on the LPGA Tour.
“You know how strong the younger players are becoming. She has to work hard at her game like they all do.”
“She’s just starting, but I’d like to see her challenge herself more, not just continue to play at her level, but hit the wall and go through it.”
“I’m looking forward to watching her future,” Shin smiled.