Min Woo Lee
Australia's Min Woo Lee opened with a 4-under 67 to be three off the pace at the PGA National. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS
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Min Woo Lee dazzles fans on 13th at PGA National

AAP March 1, 2024

Min Woo Lee continues to entertain his army of fans around the world with the Australian’s sublime ball-striking skills on full display at PGA National.

The 25-year-old from Western Australia opened with a 4-under 67 at Palm Beaches on Thursday to be three behind first-round leaders Chad Ramey and SH Kim in the Cognizant Classic. 

But it was at the 13th when Lee, younger brother of LPGA star and world No.5 Minjee Lee, provided another snippet for his growing highlights reel.

Sending his drive 301 yards to the right of the fairway, Lee was left with 98 yards to the pin. He struck his second perfectly with the ball sailing into the air before bouncing twice and straight into the hole for an eagle.

He was even for the round at the time and jumped to 2-under, before making birdie on the next hole and adding another on the last to join an elite group that included Rory McIlroy.  

The 144-player field are all in pursuit of Ramey and Kim, who both produced bogey-free rounds.

Kim had an eagle and five birdies, including one on the finishing hole, while Ramey had seven birdies.

A group of five players – Cameron Young, Ryan Moore, Chesson Hadley, Austin Eckroat and Andrew Novak – all played in the morning wave and finished one stroke back with 6-under rounds of 65.

Conditions were perfect for Ramey when he teed off early on a course known to often have whipping winds but barely had a breeze for much of his round.

“I got a good break this morning with there not being any wind,” Ramey said. “I fully expect the rest of the week the wind to blow.

“I’ve never been here and it not blow. But to take advantage of the calm conditions is definitely a plus.”

McIlroy, the world’s No.2-ranked player, added: “You’re not going to get this course much easier.”

South Korean Kim, who shot a 58 on the Japan Golf Tour in 2021 – holed out from 25 yards on the par-5 third to highlight his round. He holds a first-round lead for the first time in his 45 PGA Tour starts.

Billy Horschel, C.T. Pan, Sam Ryder, Bud Cauley, Erik van Rooyen, Kevin Yu and Chandler Phillips were in a group at 5-under 66.

Defending champion Chris Kirk and FedExCup points leader Matthieu Pavon were among those to join Lee and McIlroy one further back.

Aaron Baddeley, the other Australian in the field, opened with an even-par 71 to be tied 95th.   

With AP