Min Woo Lee has revealed he spent tournament eve watching Tiger Woods’ famous 2000 British Open triumph before making a spectacular start to his St Andrews debut.
The Perth ace cashed in on his privileged early tee time to briefly capture the clubhouse lead with a steely three-under-par 69 at the Old Course.
Lee was the first Australian out on Thursday, hitting off in the opening group at 6.35am with Scotland’s 1999 champion Paul Lawrie and American Webb Simpson.
And the 23-year-old again showed his sense of occasion, recovering from a dreaded double-bogey six on the third hole to storm into early Open contention.
Lee swiftly shook off his early disappointment to jag birdies on the fourth, eighth, ninth and 12th holes before draining a bomb for an eagle three on No.14 after finding the par-5 green with his brilliant second shot.
He three-putted the notorious No.17 road hole for bogey but a par on the last ensured him a slice of the clubhouse lead.
After a surprise 4am get-up, Lee described his double bogey as a “welcome to the British Open”.
“It was such a weird story,” Lee said.
“So I slept about 8:30, put my alarm as 4:30. I was watching Tiger in 2000 St Andrews, winning here before I slept.
“For some reason, the laptop started playing when it was closed. It woke me up at four. It was like Tiger holing a putt or something. It was funny and it was a good wake-up call, I guess.”
A proven links golf performer, Lee won last year’s Scottish Open before missing the cut a week later on his British Open debut at Royal St George’s.
But he rebounded in his very next major, posting the equal-lowest front nine in Masters history to finish equal 14th on his debut at Augusta National in April.
The Lee family already boasts one major championship this year, with Min Woo’s older sister Minjee winning last month’s US Women’s Open at at Southern Pines in North Carolina.
That followed her breakthrough major victory at last year’s Evian Championship, which she will defend in two weeks in France.
If Lee goes on with the job at St Andrews, golf’s great sibling double act would be the first sister-brother combination to both claim golf majors.
“It’s a long way to go. But actually making a cut, I’ll be happy with actually making a cut,” he said.
“I haven’t made many cuts this year. And that’s not the mentality (I should have) but I am just trying to find something right now.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle this year. So I’m trying.”