TRANSCRIPT | Minjee Lee, 2020 Vic Open, pre-tournament press conference

KATHIE SHEARER:  Thank you for coming in.  It’s terrific to see you again. MINJEE LEE:  Thank you. KATHIE SHEARER:  You’ve decided that this is your first tournament.  You’ve had a nice break, have you, over Christmas and New Year? MINJEE LEE:  Um‑hmm. KATHIE SHEARER:  Can you tell us what you’ve been up to? MINJEE LEE:  […]

KATHIE SHEARER:  Thank you for coming in.  It’s terrific to see you again.

MINJEE LEE:  Thank you.

KATHIE SHEARER:  You’ve decided that this is your first tournament.  You’ve had a nice break, have you, over Christmas and New Year?

MINJEE LEE:  Um‑hmm.

KATHIE SHEARER:  Can you tell us what you’ve been up to?

MINJEE LEE:  We sort of went on a family vacay over Christmas and we haven’t done that, the four of us, in a very long time.  Plus my grandma was five.  It was really nice.  We got to spend it right on the bay and it was just very low key.  It was very good.

KATHIE SHEARER:  Have you done a lot of practice before you’ve come to this event?

MINJEE LEE:  I’ve been working hard, I guess, after Christmas and then over the first month of the new year, yeah.

KATHIE SHEARER:  And I saw you I think near the coffee shop and we were speaking about it and you said how much you like coming back down to 13th Beach, you like this tournament and you like the course obviously.

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah.  Being a past champion here, I think it’s a really great venue just with the guys as well.  I think it’s just something very different that we don’t get to have often.  It’s just a great atmosphere.  And all the crowds and the supporters come out and they can walk with us, so it’s just something different for everyone.

Q.  How do you do mentally every time you turn up somewhere where you’re the No. 1 player in the field by the world rankings?

MINJEE LEE:  I’m not sure if I’m the No. 1 in rankings right now.

Q.  In this field.

MINJEE LEE:  I don’t think I am.  Jeoungeun Lee6 I think is above me.

KATHIE SHEARER:  We’ve all been on holiday, we’re all rusty.

MINJEE LEE:  To be one of the top players coming into the event, I think it’s always a really good feeling and it’s just something that you hope ‑‑ like I guess it’s an excitation for you yourself to want to play well.  Obviously it’s in Australia, so I want to have a good result as well.  Yeah, that’s just something for myself.

Q.  I guess once upon a time that might have been a bit of pressure on you to perform, but now is it a weapon against the rest of the field?

MINJEE LEE:  I think it’s more motivation than a stress now, but obviously a little bit of stress.  Yeah, just a little more motivation for myself just to get my butt in there and do well.

Q.  When you sit back and look at 2019, do you go, “That was unbelievable, like I was so consistent, it was brilliant,” or do you go, “I wish I would have won another time or two”?

MINJEE LEE:  I think a little bit of both.  Obviously had quite a few top 2s, but hopefully this year I can make those ‑‑ a couple more top 2s into firsts.  A little bit of both.

Q.  So those things on the LPGA Tour, you know, the most top‑10s and all those, do they factor in your thinking at all or not at all?

MINJEE LEE:  Well, I don’t think I’ve won any of those before, but I think I’ve come close.  Once you’re like at the tournament and playing them, you don’t really have that going through your mind.  I think at the end of like the year or something, if somebody’s like, oh, you had this many top‑10s, and you’re like, “Oh, I did?”  I don’t really think about it too much.

Q.  Is it a challenge coming back after the break or have you been doing this for so long now you’re just used to it?

MINJEE LEE:  Well, this is my sixth year on the LPGA Tour.  Yeah, I’m a little bit more accustomed to sort of like the break and now starting the year.  I think there’s always a little bit of rust because you haven’t really been in tournament play and playing competitively for a couple months.  Yeah, I think it’s a little bit of both.  I’m a little used to it, but I’m not totally used to it.

Q.  How big a deal is the Olympics for you right now?  Is that something you think about more later in the year?

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, it’s definitely been in the back of my mind since last year just because I think the qualifying, it goes by your world rankings, so I’m just going to try and keep that in the range.  Yeah, we’ll see from there.

Q.  (Inaudible.)  There’s a lot of big things for you every year, but how big for you would that be?

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, it would be amazing.  I think just to be able to represent Australia at the Olympics is such a great honor.  Since I sort of got a taste of it at Rio, I really want to go to Japan, so yeah.

KATHIE SHEARER:  And have you got your year planned out?  Do you sort of sit down at the beginning of the year and say, I’m doing this towards the Olympics or just towards the majors?  Are you there that you plan your year around the majors or do you just sort of say, I like this week, I’m going to play this week and not that week.

MINJEE LEE:  I think I plan my year mostly around I think which events like fit in best with like how you’re going to be mentally or physically.  Obviously the majors are very important, but they seem to be very clumped together.  Like Evian and British are really close and there’s a lot of tournaments in that sort of stretch.  So I sort of go, well, am I going to be ready for those events to play well if I play these events prior to them.  That’s just how I do my year usually.

KATHIE SHEARER:  And you’re all set for this year, 2020?

MINJEE LEE:  I think there might be a little bit of change depending on which extra events that I have to play for my sponsors or things like that.  I haven’t quite set it in stone yet, but it is still early in the year.

Q.  We talked to (indecipherable) on our podcast a couple times about like sponsorships and for you and Sue and Hannah in particular, have you got any thoughts on that?  Did you listen to it?  Did you think that it’s wrong, bad?

MINJEE LEE:  Bad about the sponsors?

Q.  The lack of domestic sponsors for you.  You’re a very proud Australian and you want to represent Australia at the Olympics.  No offense to everything you’re wearing there, which I understand completely.  I’m sure you would like to see a domestic sponsor there as well if you could?

MINJEE LEE:  RAYDEL is domestic.  That’s sort of kind of a new thing for me, I only just signed with them.  But yeah, I think ‑‑ I don’t really want to be like offensive or anything, but it has come to my attention, and like you, people talk about it quite a lot.  There isn’t that many Australian sponsors for the Australian players, so it would be great to see somebody come on board and do that.

Q.  When you talk about your sponsors, you’ve got your sponsor commitments and you go and fulfill them and you do your days.  It just seems to me like that should be something that the Australian fans and sponsors should get a crack at.

MINJEE LEE:  Yeah, I think definitely, but because a lot of my sponsors are Asian, I think maybe golf is maybe a bigger ‑‑ it’s just bigger in their countries or in their worlds.  It plays a bigger part in, I guess, maybe their lifestyle.  I don’t really know.  Maybe Australia has different sports that they are more into.

Q.  You spoke before about all the top 2 or top 3 finishes that you had in 2019.  Come Sunday if you’re in contention, does that sort of play on your mind with how you might attack certain holes given you were so close?  Do you play a little bit more aggressively or does that change at all?

MINJEE LEE:  Well, I don’t think so personally.  When you go out there you’re not like, “Oh, I had so many top 2s and I really want to win.”  Like I don’t think that’s really the mentality that I usually have when I’m playing, so I usually just try and go out there and have fun, but obviously when I can play aggressively and if I need to be a bit more conservative and smart, then I will. 

Q.  Can I ask you one more Olympic question?

KATHIE SHEARER:  Certainly.  I’ll answer that for her.

Q.  Obviously you played with Sue last time and Hannah’s in the slot to play with you at the moment.  The three of you being reasonably good mates, have you talked about the potential of the three of you sort of getting there?

MINJEE LEE:  We haven’t really spoken about the Olympics too much, but I know everybody’s really excited and really wanting to go, but we haven’t really spoken about it too much.

Q.  You’ve watched Hannah do her thing last year, I’m sure you were thrilled for her.


Q.  Is that the overriding emotion or is there something that makes you a little envious as well?  How does it make you feel?

MINJEE LEE:  I’m not really like envious, like I know my time will come.  Yeah, I was just really happy for her.  Yeah, sent her a message straightaway.  Yeah, it was cool, it was cool to watch, for sure.

Q.  Have you and your brother ever played an event like this together at the same time before?

MINJEE LEE:  Oh, we did a couple years ago, but I think he played really well that year and I didn’t.  No, it was really fun.  We had a practice round yesterday, played nine holes.  Yeah, I haven’t played with him in a while, so yeah, nice to see how far he hits it.

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