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Danny Lee turns to Aussie coach

Published: 6:50AM Friday January 13, 2012 Source: AAP

  • Danny Lee (Source: Photosport)
    Danny Lee - Source: Photosport

New Zealand's Danny Lee has turned to Australian coach Steve Bann as he suits up for his rookie season on the US PGA Tour.

On the advice of KJ Choi, who has long been coached by the Australian, Lee has hired Bann to simplify and streamline his approach to golf hoping to gain an edge.

The 21-year-old began working with Bann this week in the lead-up to his 'debut' at the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Hawaii.

Lee has already played 16 times previously on the US Tour as both an amateur and professional thanks to various sponsor exemptions but this week is his first as a full-time member on Tour.

The former US Amateur champion and European Tour winner graduated from the secondary Nationwide Tour, finishing sixth on the money list in 2011.

"I am close with KJ Choi and he said I was thinking too much about my swing," Lee said.

"I was always working on something and I am too technical sometimes so KJ introduced me to Steve.

"Steve is a simple guy who is teaching me how to practise with better routine and how to trust my own game and not think too much."

It has been a longer road to the Tour than the South Korea-born Lee expected.

After winning the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth in March of 2009 as an amateur, Lee played the US Masters and then turned pro.

He had hoped to earn enough money in limited sponsor exemptions to gain a card for 2010 but fell short.

After failing to qualify for the 2011 season via Q School, Lee decided to split his time between Europe and the Nationwide Tour. It was a masterstroke as a win in Texas ensured he would finish in the top 25, thus punching his ticket to the big show.

"It wasn't easy for me and I guess I was too young to handle the attention and pressure from the PGA Tour back then.

"I am still nervous but in the last three years I learned a lot of things and I think I am getting on top of managing my time better which should help me on this tour."

One of 26 Tour rookies playing in Honolulu, Lee says winning right off the bat isn't beyond the realms of possibility.

"My main goal is defending my card to return next year but I am also trying to win one event," he says.

"I know that is hard for a rookie but I know that a lot of Nationwide Tour graduates won events last year so that gives me a lot of confidence that it can be done. If I keep working hard and play my game I think that can come naturally."

Lee will be the lone Kiwi on the US Tour, a fact he is more than proud of. But he believes it won't be long before others join him.

"I am proud to represent New Zealand," he says.

"Hopefully in the future there are more golfers from there inspired to be on the PGA Tour. There are a lot of good junior golfers there now who know if they just work a little harder they can do it."