Danny Lee (golfer)

Danny Jin-Myung Lee (Korean: 이진명; born 24 July 1990) is a New Zealand professional golfer. Lee was born in Incheon, South Korea, and emigrated to New Zealand at the age of eight.[2] He became a New Zealand citizen on 2 September 2008 at Rotorua,[3] where he attended Rotorua Boys' High School.

Danny Lee
Danny Lee.JPG
Lee in 2009
Personal information
Full nameDanny Jin-Myung Lee
Born (1990-07-24) 24 July 1990 (age 30)
Incheon, South Korea
Height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight168 lb (76 kg; 12.0 st)
Nationality New Zealand
ResidenceIrving, Texas, U.S.
Turned professional2009
Current tour(s)PGA Tour
Former tour(s)European Tour
Web.com Tour
Professional wins3
Highest ranking34 (14 February 2016)[1]
(as of 25 October 2020)
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour1
European Tour1
Asian Tour1
PGA Tour of Australasia1
Korn Ferry Tour1
Best results in major championships
Masters TournamentT17: 2016
PGA ChampionshipT36: 2019
U.S. OpenT57: 2016
The Open ChampionshipCUT: 2015, 2016
Achievements and awards
Mark H. McCormack Medal2008

Amateur careerEdit

Lee became the youngest ever winner of the U.S. Amateur in August 2008, aged 18 years and one month,[4] six months younger than Tiger Woods when he won in 1994. His age record was broken the following year by 17-year-old An Byeong-hun. He became number one in the World Amateur Golf Ranking on 20 August 2008 and remained number one until he turned pro in April 2009. He was awarded the 2008 Mark H. McCormack Medal on 27 August.[5]

In October, he represented New Zealand at the Eisenhower Trophy in Adelaide, Australia. A final round 11-over 84 saw him finish T37 in the individual standings.[6][7] The New Zealand team finished tied for 11th.[8]

In February 2009, Lee won the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia, a professional tournament co-sanctioned by the European, Asian, and Australasian tours. He was the youngest ever winner on the European Tour, surpassing Dale Hayes, and only the second amateur winner after Pablo Martín.[9][10][11] The win took him to 159th place in the Official World Golf Ranking.[12]

Lee's first major was the 2009 Masters Tournament, where his first round two-over 74 put him in a position to make the cut. In the second round he eagled the par-5 eighth and played the front nine in 34, but a six-putt led to quintuple bogey on the 10th, dropping him to five-over for the tournament. He was unable to recover, eventually finishing 11-over par.[13]

Professional careerEdit

2009: Bid for PGA Tour status falls shortEdit

Lee turned professional after the 2009 Masters Tournament,[14] forfeiting his guaranteed entry into the 2009 U.S. Open and the 2009 British Open as the 2008 U.S. Amateur champion.

In April, Lee signed a two-year endorsement contract with Callaway Golf, to use Callaway clubs, balls, and signage on his clothes. The company has not released how much his contract is worth, but sources say it is for US$1 million per year.[15]

Lee was allowed to use seven sponsor exemptions during the PGA Tour season, and gained three other starts courtesy of his U.S. Amateur and Johnnie Walker Classic titles. His goal was to earn $537,958 which would have given him temporary membership and allowed him to receive an unlimited amount of invitations.[16] That figure is the amount earned by the player who finished 150th on the 2008 money list.

Lee made six out of eleven PGA Tour cuts after turning pro, with two top-25 finishes. He tied for 13th at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in May, and improved on his best finish in a PGA Tour event by finishing in a tie for 7th at the AT&T National in July. That top ten finish earned Lee a spot in the following week's John Deere Classic, meaning he did not have to use one of his two remaining sponsor exemptions.[17] The money from his T-7 finish put him $187,904 away from earning temporary status on tour. Lee missed the cut by two strokes at the John Deere Classic after bogeying the last two holes of his second round. Lee missed the cut again three weeks later at the Buick Open.

In August, Lee became the youngest player to play in a World Golf Championship event when he played the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.[18] He finished T51 at the event. He made the cut but did not finish at the Wyndham Championship two weeks later. He used his last sponsor exemption of the season to play in that tournament and did not earn enough money on tour to earn his card for 2010.

Lee then switched his focus to the European Tour, as well as playing selected events in Asia. He made his maiden appearance as a professional in Europe at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles where he finished T10.[19] As a drawcard for the Korea Open and the Coca-Cola Tokai Classic in Japan, he played the first two rounds of both events with fellow teen prodigy Ryo Ishikawa.

Lee entered the PGA Tour's qualifying school at the first stage level,[20] beginning his campaign in McKinney, Texas on 20 October.[21] Needing to finish in roughly the top third of the field, rounds of 72-78-69-76 saw him fall well short of advancing to the second stage.[22]

After arriving back in Asia for the Singapore Open, Lee cited swing changes, illness and cold weather as reasons for his disappointing performance in Texas, and confirmed an intention to play mainly on the European Tour in 2010.[23] He also announced he had signed Korean-born Suckki Jang, an affiliate of Hank Haney, as his new coach.[24] He then played the WGC-HSBC Champions, the Hong Kong Open, and represented New Zealand with David Smail at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup, all with limited success.


Lee made a poor start to the 2010 season, making just two cuts in his first nine events on the European Tour.

On the eve of the BMW PGA Championship in May, Lee announced a new partnership with English caddy Peter Coleman. "I finally feel that I am in the right position with my swing and that has got me really excited," Lee said.[25]

However, after receiving a sponsor's invite to play the RBC Canadian Open in July, Lee stated he was now without a swing coach. He added that he had been through several coaches since turning professional and had perhaps become too technical with his mechanics, and was now trying to focus more on playing than tweaking his swing.[26]

Lee eventually finished the Race to Dubai in 159th place, making 10 out of 20 cuts with a best finish of T21 at the BMW International Open in June.[27]

Late in the year, he successfully negotiated the first two stages of PGA Tour qualifying school in California.[28][29] At the final stage in Florida, Lee shot rounds of 74-72-69-65-72-74 to finish T64.[30] His placing earned him full Nationwide Tour playing rights, allowing him to plan a 35-event, two-tour itinerary for 2011.[31]


Lee began a noticeable return to form a couple of months into the new year. A tie for 7th in the Chitimacha Louisiana Open was followed by a strong showing for 54 holes at the Malaysian Open, eventually being disqualified for signing an incorrect final round scorecard (denying him a tie for 17th).[32] The next week he tied for 2nd at the Volvo China Open, four shots behind winner Nicolas Colsaerts.[33]

In May, a tie for 5th in the Stadion Classic at UGA was followed by an outright third at the BMW Charity Pro-Am.

In June he injured his left wrist during an Open Championship qualifier, forcing his withdrawal and a four-week break from competition.[34] Diagnosed as tendonitis, he worked with his caddy in American events, Jeff Belen, on grip and swing adjustments.[35] By early September he had posted three further Nationwide Tour top-10 finishes, including a tie for 2nd at the Cox Classic.

In early October Lee won the WNB Golf Classic in Texas, beating Harris English in a playoff. The $94,500 first prize lifted him to 4th on the money list, assuring him of a place inside the final money list's top 25, those being the players who gain PGA Tour cards for the following season.

"It feels great to win again," Lee said. "I haven't won a tournament since I won the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic and it's a great feeling. It's not easy to win and I worked really hard with my uncle and my coach (Bill Choung) for this. I'm really happy it worked."[36] Lee credited the switch to a belly putter in this event as beneficial, and came after pulling out of the previous week's event after 27 holes citing his wrist injury.[37]

Lee finished sixth on tour with earnings of $326,100,[38] making 13 of 18 cuts with nine top-10s. He had the season's lowest scoring average of 68.98.


Lee entered the new season with PGA Tour and European Tour cards. He said he was still keen to play a two-tour schedule, however his main focus would be on America.[39] He made only 13 cuts in 26 events on the PGA Tour and lost his tour card. He did not play on the European Tour.

After striking up a successful partnership late in the Nationwide Tour season, Lee said he would have Australian Graeme Courts, a former long-time caddy of Loren Roberts, working for him on the PGA Tour.[40]

K. J. Choi introduced Lee to another Australian, Steve Bann, as a potential coach. "I am close with K.J. Choi and he said I was thinking too much about my swing," Lee said. "I was always working on something and I am too technical sometimes so K.J. introduced me to Steve. Steve is a simple guy who is teaching me how to practise with better routine and how to trust my own game and not think too much.[41]


Lee played on the Web.com Tour in 2013, finishing 15th on the regular season money list to regain his PGA Tour card for 2014. His best finish was second at the Rex Hospital Open.


On the back of six straight missed cuts, Lee adopted a claw putting grip for the Puerto Rico Open in March. He credited the change of putting style for yielding him an instant result; a runner-up finish, two shots behind winner Chesson Hadley.[42]


In the 2015 PGA Tour fall season, Lee finished third at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. In the spring, he finished seventh at the Valspar Championship and tenth at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. He won his first PGA Tour event in July at the Greenbrier Classic. The next week he finished fourth at the John Deere Classic. In August he finished fourth at the Quicken Loans National and sixth at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. With a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship, he finished 9th in the FedEx Cup standings.


In the 2019 PGA Championship, Lee announced he was now working with golf coach George Gankas which was netting him a significant increase in length off his tee shots; especially his driver. He opened with a 64 (−6) and was only one off Brooks Koepka's lead.[43] He then followed with scores of 74, 71, and 77 to finish tied for 36th.


At the 2020 U.S. Open, Lee made the 36 hole cut, but later withdrew from the championship after the third round citing a wrist injury; he had earlier taken six putts from close range on the final hole.[44]

Amateur wins (7)Edit

Professional wins (3)Edit

PGA Tour wins (1)Edit

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 5 Jul 2015 Greenbrier Classic −13 (63-69-68-67=267) Playoff   David Hearn,   Kevin Kisner,
  Robert Streb

PGA Tour playoff record (1–0)

No. Year Tournament Opponents Result
1 2015 Greenbrier Classic   David Hearn,   Kevin Kisner,
  Robert Streb
Won with par on second extra hole
Kisner and Streb eliminated with birdie on first hole

European Tour wins (1)Edit

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 22 Feb 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic1
(as an amateur)
−17 (67-68-69-67=271) 1 stroke   Felipe Aguilar,   Hiroyuki Fujita,
  Ross McGowan

1Co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia

Nationwide Tour wins (1)Edit

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 2 Oct 2011 WNB Golf Classic −18 (64-72-68-66=270) Playoff   Harris English

Nationwide Tour playoff record (1–0)

No. Year Tournament Opponent Result
1 2011 WNB Golf Classic   Harris English Won with par on first extra hole

Results in major championshipsEdit

Results not in chronological order in 2020.

Tournament 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Masters Tournament CUT T17
U.S. Open CUT T57
The Open Championship CUT CUT
PGA Championship T43 T56 CUT
Tournament 2019 2020
Masters Tournament
PGA Championship T36 T71
U.S. Open WD
The Open Championship NT
  Did not play

CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
WD = withdrew
NT = No tournament due to COVID-19 pandemic


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 1
PGA Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 4
U.S. Open 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 2
The Open Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Totals 0 0 0 0 0 1 12 7
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 3 (twice, current)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 0

Results in The Players ChampionshipEdit

Tournament 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
The Players Championship CUT T35 CUT T7 CUT
  Top 10

CUT = missed the halfway cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place

Results in World Golf ChampionshipsEdit

Results not in chronological order before 2015.

Tournament 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Championship T42
Match Play T51
Invitational T51 T6 56
Champions T66 T58
  Top 10
  Did not play

QF, R16, R32, R64 = Round in which player lost in match play
"T" = tied

PGA Tour and European Tour career summaryEdit

PGA Tour European Tour
Season Wins Earnings ($) Money list Wins Earnings () Order of Merit
2009 0 359,846 n/a † 1 110,543 164
2010 0 0 0 88,257 159
2011 0 0 0 358,477 84
2012 0 359,112 166 0 0
2013 0 112,000 n/a † 0 0
2014 0 781,295 120 0 0
2015 1 3,965,933 11 0 233,265 n/a †
2016 0 1,405,722 75 0 477,951 n/a †
2017 0 1,611,331 68 0 0
2018 0 1,269,386 98 0 0
2019 0 1,524,126 75 0 43,178 n/a †
2020 0 2,043,764 40 0 16,292 n/a †
Career* 1 13,432,515 142 1 1,432,052 n/a

* Complete as of 7 September 2020.
† Lee was not ranked because he was not a member.

Team appearancesEdit



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Week 07 2016 Ending 14 Feb 2016" (pdf). OWGR. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  2. ^ 2008 U.S. Amateur Archived 25 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine - Meet The Quarterfinalists
  3. ^ "Golf: Danny Lee now officially a Kiwi". The New Zealand Herald. 2 September 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  4. ^ "U.S. Amateur: Move over Tiger, Lee supplants Woods". Archived from the original on 25 August 2008. Retrieved 25 August 2008.
  5. ^ Danny Lee secures McCormack Medal after US Amateur win[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ 2008 Eisenhower Trophy, individual leaderboard
  7. ^ "Danny Lee's $100m dilemma". The New Zealand Herald. 4 January 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  8. ^ http://www.golfstatresults.com/public/leaderboards/team/static/team1288.html 2008 Eisenhower Trophy, team leaderboard
  9. ^ Lee wins Johnnie Walker Classic
  10. ^ "Golf: Lee in dreamland after stunning win at Johnnie Walker Classic". The New Zealand Herald. 22 February 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  11. ^ Lee pulls off upset win
  12. ^ "Week 8 - Phil Mickelson Retains the Northern Trust Open Title and Moves up to World Number Three". Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  13. ^ "Danny Lee ready to turn pro after Masters meltdown". The New Zealand Herald. 11 April 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  14. ^ World #1 Danny Lee Turns Pro
  15. ^ Danny Lee joins Callaway
  16. ^ "Lee trying to earn temporary status on Tour". Archived from the original on 9 July 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  17. ^ Lee qualifies for John Deere Classic
  18. ^ PGA Tour advice is good and bad for teenager Lee
  19. ^ "Danny Lee reflects on last round mixture". Stuff.co.nz. 31 August 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  20. ^ 2009 Q-School application form
  21. ^ Q-School tournament info page: McKinney, TX
  22. ^ Q-School leaderboard: McKinney, TX
  23. ^ McGuire, Bernie (29 October 2009). "Lee switches focus to Europe". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  24. ^ "Lee signs coach with Tiger connections". Television New Zealand. 29 October 2009. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  25. ^ McGuire, Bernie (18 May 2010). "New caddy, coach boost Danny Lee". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  26. ^ Remember Danny Lee?
  27. ^ 2010 European Tour results
  28. ^ Q-School Stage 1 leaderboard
  29. ^ Q-School Stage 2 leaderboard
  30. ^ Q-School Final Stage leaderboard Archived 12 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ Davidson, Martin (1 April 2011). "Craig Perks warns Danny Lee over burnout". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  32. ^ "Danny Lee disqualified from Malaysian Open". Stuff.co.nz. 19 April 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  33. ^ "Danny Lee claims share of second in China". Stuff.co.nz. 25 April 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  34. ^ Wrist Injury a Worry for Danny Lee
  35. ^ "Nationwide Tour's Rising Star" video
  36. ^ "WNB Golf Classic R4 wrap-up". Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  37. ^ "WNB Golf Classic, R1 wrap-up". Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  38. ^ "2011 Money List – Nationwide Tour". PGA Tour. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  39. ^ Danny Lee learning his lessons
  40. ^ "Lee could miss out playing NZ Open". NZPA. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  41. ^ "Lee Turns to Aussie Coach". Australian Associated Press. 13 January 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  42. ^ "Danny Lee Riding Confidence at Copperhead". NPR. The Associated Press. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  43. ^ Myers, Alex (16 May 2019). "PGA Championship 2019: Surprise contender Danny Lee briefly contemplated quite the career change in 2017". Golf Digest. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  44. ^ Dethier, Dylan (20 September 2020). "Controversial U.S. Open 6-putt footage finally released (it's spectacular!)". Golf.com. Retrieved 20 September 2020.

External linksEdit