New Zealand’s Danny Lee has become the youngest ever winner of a European Tour event after securing victory in the Johnnie Walker Classic. He finished one shot ahead of Ross McGowan, Felipe Aguilar and Hiroyuki Fujita.
At the age of 18 years and 213 days, Lee surpassed the record previously held by Dale Hayes – winner of the 1971 Spanish Open. The New Zealander is also only the second ever amateur winner on the European Tour, following Pablo Martin’s victory in the 2007 Estoril Open de Portugal.
Lee started the final round two shots behind the English duo of Ross McGowan and John Bickerton and was still behind through 12 holes of the final round. But the 2008 US Amateur Champion birdied the 13th, 14th, 17th and 18th to finish with a round of 67 and end the week on -17. Neither McGowan nor Bickerton could catch the youngster and Lee finished one shot clear of the pack.
“It still feels like I’m in dreamland. Hopefully no-one wakes me up.” Said Lee. “I was dreaming about winning but my goal was to make the cut after two rounds and to try to get into the top 20 or top ten. I played extremely well the last few days and yeah, here I am.”
As an amateur, Lee was not eligible to collect the winner’s cheque for €235,000 so that money was split between those finishing in a tie for second – Felipe Aguilar, Hiroyuki Fujita and Ross McGowan.
Lee will turn professional after playing in April’s US Masters and is setting himself lofty targets. “I can’t compare to Tiger Woods because he’s one of the greatest players in the world and he’s the number one ranked player in the world.” He said before continuing: “All I want to do is just break what he’s done. Obviously I can’t win three US Amateurs in a row but I’ll try to break his records on the PGA Tour.”
Johnnie Walker Classic
The Vines Resort and Country Club, Australia
Feb 19-22, purse €1,402,000, par 72
1 Danny Lee (am) (NZL) 67 68 69 67 271
T2 Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 68 68 68 68 272 €160,583
T2 Hiroyuki Fujita (Jap) 67 68 70 67 272 €160,583
T2 Ross McGowan (Eng) 70 67 65 70 272 €160,583
T5 John Bickerton (Eng) 66 70 66 71 273 €65,390
T5 Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 70 68 66 69 273 €65,390
T7 Adam Blyth (Aus) 68 68 71 67 274 €42,461
T7 Michael Sim (Aus) 69 69 67 69 274 €42,461
T7 Lee Westwood (Eng) 66 73 68 67 274 €42,461
Note: Players in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only