'Petty' sibling rivalry fires up rising star Lee at Australian Open

golf29 November 2023 05:00| © AFP
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Min Woo Lee @ Getty Images

Australia's newest golf star Min Woo Lee says that his rivalry with better-known sister Minjee Lee will fire him up as he chases a fourth DP World Tour title this week in Sydney.

The Perth-born siblings will both be in action at the Australian Open because the men's and women's events take place at the same courses at the same time.

The 25-year-old Min Woo has long been in his sister's shadow, with the 27-year-old Minjee winning two majors and consistently one of the best players in women's golf.

But the colourful Min Woo is enjoying the best year of his career and has broken into the top 40 in the world for the first time.

He won in Macau last month on the Asian Tour and carried that red-hot form into last week's Australian PGA Championship, where he triumphed by three strokes for a third title on the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour.

He finished tied fifth at the US Open in June and has earned playing rights for the PGA Tour in 2024.

Speaking ahead of the Australian Open, which is co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour, Min Woo told reporters in Sydney that it was a mostly healthy rivalry with his older sister.

"I get a little pissed off when she wins the week after because I got the light on me for a little bit and then four days later or like a week later, she's holding a trophy," he said.

"We're happy for each other. We want to only do well and inspire kids and keep playing good golf.

"So it's not that bad of a sibling rivalry, but a little petty – from me usually."

Min Woo's win in Brisbane last week was also notable for his colourful celebrations, when he put on a chef's hat at the 17th hole – before victory was sealed – at Royal Queensland Golf Club.

A beaming Min Woo, who appears to relish being in the limelight, also led the crowd in a "thunderclap".

"I still have to ask my caddie where he got the chef hat on 17," he said this week.

- Typical siblings -

Like her brother, world No 5 Minjee is also chasing a maiden victory at the Australian Open, where there is an equal split between men and women for prize money.

Their busy schedules mean that the siblings do not get much proper time to catch up.

But Minjee has watched her brother's recent success with pride from afar – even if she's loth to admit it. Typical siblings.

"I'd never say it to his face, but he plays really well and I'm always really proud of him," she said after winning on the LPGA Tour on the same day that he secured his PGA Tour card for 2024.

"Over the past year he's been playing great," she added in Sydney this week.

The mixed Australian Open will take place at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Australian Golf Club across four days.

The nearby Lakes Golf Club is co-hosting for the first two days.