Australian teenager Rachel Lee stunned the women’s field in the first round at the Australian Open, carding a six-under 67.
But it almost didn’t happen.
Although calm and composed when she spoke to media after the round, the 16-year-old was anything but in the lead-up.
AS IT HAPPENED: 2023 Australian Open day one
Her debut round was almost over before it began when she almost missed her 8.28am tee time, which would seen her disqualified from the tournament before she’d even made a stroke.
“I thought it was 8.38 not 8.28 and I’ve learnt my lesson, so I won’t do that again hopefully,” she said.
“I was putting and then my coach (Steve McRae) just said, ‘Rachel, you’re on the tees’, so I just ran for my life.”
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Just last week, Lee picked up her first professional win in the Women’s NSW Open Golf Regional Qualifying Tournament at Mollymook.
The youngster backed that performance up by playing her way into her first Australian Open by winning a qualifying event with a one-under at the Ryde-Parramatta Golf Club on Monday.
Three days later, she’s clubhouse leader, one shot ahead of Korean star Jiyai Shin, with Stephanie Kyriacou (four-under, 69) and Minjee Lee (three-under, 70) rounding out the top four.
Despite her success, Lee said she “definitely” finds it intimidating sharing the course with some of the biggest names in the game.
”I had a practice round with Jiyai Shin at The Australian, so it was very nice and I learnt heaps from her,” she said.
Lee will have much more preparation time in round two, with her tee time set for 1.33pm AEST. She will tee off alongside Emma Ash and Darcy Habgood.