Danny Lee's ascension to the ranking of the world's #1 amateur golfer has been one of the most amazing sports stories of 2008, but also one of the least noticed. Lee, Korean born, but a New Zealand citizen has been in the US since May, playing in the prestigious amateur tournaments leading up the the US Amateur Championship, where he has reached the semi-finals. This included winning both the strokeplay and matchplay titles at the Western Amateur, second in prestige only to the US Amateur. The USGA website carries this story on Lee today.
Tomorrow is a huge day for the Rotorua teenager. A win in the semi-final will qualify Lee for an all-expenses-paid trip to the Masters Tournament in April 2009. In keeping with the spirit of the great Bobby Jones, the Masters always rewards two players from the US Amateur. Lee will get to stay in the Crow's Nest, the famed dormitary atop the clubhouse at Augusta, and will rub shoulders with the best players in the world.
But first things first. Lee has to win his semi-final tomorrow, then it will be the 36 hole final on Monday (NZ time). Two more victiroes will make Lee the youngest ever champion, six months younger than a certain man by the name of Woods when he won the first of his three US Amateurs in 1994. A win at Pinehurst No 2 (the site of Michael Campbell's US Open victory in 2005) will make the golfing world Lee's oyster. But first, school is calling, and it will be back to Rotorua Boys' High School to finish his education!