Danny Lee hoping to bring LIV Golf event to NZ

Danny Lee celebrates after winning at the LIV Golf Tuscon event.

Danny Lee seems more relaxed than ever.

As he discusses his new life on the controversial LIV Golf tour, he’s more laid back and more open about all facets of his career.

Sure, $6 million helps, but as he explains, so do plenty of differences in LIV compared to the PGA Tour, which he left a few weeks ago after a 30-minute phone call from fellow-Korean born LIV player Kevin Na.

“I played (for) 11 years on the PGA Tour and 15 years in professional golf, so there’s a lot of tear in my body,” Lee explains over a Zoom call, detailing how he’d usually play 25 or 26 events every year.

“With LIV Golf there’s a break of at least two weeks after each event. So you can actually regroup and put some effort into it (preparation) and then play the event when you’re fresh mentally and physically.”

Lee wasn’t as open about details of his contract with LIV, other than to say he’s signed on for at least the next two seasons. He did get a one-off signing bonus but he’s adamant he saw all of last week’s $6 million winner’s cheque from his stunning win in Tucson, Arizona, as well as earnings from his team Iron Heads' victory.

“I wasn’t thinking about the money, I don’t think I can ever play golf like that. I just want to be the best player I can be wherever I play and I want to beat all the guys who are in the field. That’s my goal and I did it last week and it was a great feeling.”

So much so, the 32-year-old wants to try to bring a LIV Golf event to New Zealand. Lee’s often been criticised in golf circles for never returning home to play in the New Zealand Open. Even as recently as this year’s event, tournament director Michael Glading took aim at him for not turning up.

“If he’d wanted to come, he would have come by now,” Glading said before this month's NZ Open started.

“I find it disappointing that he hasn’t supported the national open.”

But Lee has a counter to that, stating that every time he introduced himself on the Tour, it would always be as "Danny Lee from Rotorua in New Zealand". He also points out because he wasn’t playing well enough consistently, he had to fight for his card every year.

“It was impossible for me to go over there (back to New Zealand) because every week, I felt like if I skipped two or three weeks on the PGA Tour I was dropping down 20-30 spots, so that’s a big jump to make up and a lot of pressure on my game and I didn’t like that,” Lee states in his defence.

"I could’ve done it but I wasn’t playing well enough.”

Possible NZ event

Now that his schedule is different, he says he will come home more, both for the Springfield Open for amateurs held annually in January, which Lee funds himself and, if he has his way, for a LIV event in New Zealand.

“I’m still a new guy (on LIV) so I think it’s a little too early for me to get involved in that stuff but I would love to make that happen and if that happens I know how much all the New Zealand fans love golf and support me so that would be my dream.”

1News has contacted LIV bosses about their thoughts on a New Zealand event, but at time of publication had no response.

As for the controversies around LIV, Lee has no problem joining the new tour and claims he doesn’t take any notice of where the money’s coming from (the Saudi Investment Fund, one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds).

“I don’t really know about or talk political stuff. The world we’re living in right now is a little different but the fact never changes - I go to the golf course and go there to try to play my best golf and beat the best golfers.”

With his first victory since 2015 under his belt, Lee will try to beat those golfers again in Orlando in a week’s time, then closer to home in Adelaide from April 21-23.

“If you can get a ticket please come over and support me, I will try and put on some entertainment.”


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