Lee switches focus to Europe

BY BERNIE MCGUIRE
Last updated 01:46 29/10/2009

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New Zealand golfer Danny Lee will commit himself to a full season competing in Europe from next year after failing at the first stage of US PGA Tour qualifying.

Lee battled illness last week in Texas and missed out on proceeding to the second stage.

He will now concentrate on a number of events in Asia before ending his season with two tournaments in Australia.

The 19-year old earned virtually a three-year European Tour exemption by winning the Johnnie Walker Classic earlier this season.

"Winning the Johnnie Walker so early in the season was great and while I received a two-year exemption for my victory, it really was three years," he said.

"But now that I didn't get through first stage in the States last week, I will be playing more on the European Tour from next year.

"I went to Texas last week but it wasn't a good week for me because I wasn't feeling that well and the weather was much, much colder than what I thought it would be.

"Also I changed my swing a bit, so everything went wrong and I guess sometimes that happens.

"So that pretty much is my US Tour card until I can try again next year."

The 19-year old will compete alongside compatriots Michael Campbell and Michael Brown in the $US5 million ($NZ6.8 million) Singapore Open being staged on the Sentosa course starting on Thursday.

Lee's schedule is then to compete in next week's WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai followed by the Hong Kong Open and remaining in Asia to team with David Smail to represent New Zealand in the World Cup of Golf in China starting on November 26.

Lee will end his season with appearances in the Australian Open and the Australian PGA.

He was tempted to skip the Hong Kong Open in favour of the Australian Masters in Melbourne the same week, an event featuring world No 1 Tiger Woods.

However after receiving an invite to compete in Hong Kong last year but then having to withdraw with what was later diagnosed as chicken pox, Lee said he owed it to organisers to compete.

This year's Singapore Open breaks new ground as it is the first to be co-sanctioned with the European Tour.

A number of leading European born players have been attracted, including Irish triple Major winning Padraig Harrington along with the British duo of Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.

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- NZPA

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