Former Mira Costa Golfer Andrea Lee returns to Palos Verdes Country Club for LPGA tourney
Andrea Lee returns to her high school practice course for the LPGA Peninsula stop
by Robb Fulcher
Andrea Lee is planning to make a triumphant return to Palos Verdes on March 30, when the international LPGA tour returns to the Palos Verdes Country Club for the $1.75 million DIO Implant LA Open.
Lee, who grew up in Hermosa Beach, began playing the Palos Verdes Golf Club when she joined the Mira Costa High School golf team in 2013.
In her sophomore year, she won the CIF State Championship. It was her final high school tournament.
“It felt amazing to end my high school golf career that way,” Lee said in a 2014 Easy Reader interview. “But with my AP classes, playing on Mira Costa’s team again this fall would be too much. I enjoyed the camaraderie of playing on a team and hope to play on Stanford’s team in two years.”
The following year, Lee became the number one ranked female golfer on the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) tour. She then attained her golf of playing golf at Stanford University
Last year, she finished fifth on the LPGA stop at Palos Verdes Country Club.
She hopes this year that her home-course familiarity, and her strong game, will once again help her and her veteran caddy, Drew Ernst, improve on that finish, among the 144 competitors.
“It’s nice to play in front of a home crowd,” said Lee, 24. “I feel like I play pretty well under pressure. I’m excited by the support. If I hit a birdie putt and they erupt in applause, I feed off that.”
“It can be a pretty tricky golf course, but I’m used to the hilly lies we have,” Lee said. “It’s undulating, but the shots off those lies are my strength. I’m used to the greens, which can be tricky to read, so putting should be an advantage.”
Lee joined the LPGA tour in 2020, making 11 cuts and recording two top-10 finishes, including a top 5 finish at the Marathon LPGA Classic.
In 2021 she made eight cuts, then last year she made 16 cuts, placing her 20th on the tour in earnings. She notched six top 10 finishes, including a win at the AmazingCre Portland Classic at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Oregon.
“That was definitely a special moment for me,” she said of the Portland Classic. “I was playing pretty solid golf and I had some top 10 finishes. I feel like the momentum was good heading into Portland, and I had a great week.
“It was a mix of relief and great excitement that all that hard work was paying off. I wasn’t a different player after that or anything, but it gave me great confidence.”
Lee said she feels good about her game as she heads to Palos Verdes, after shaking off some rust from a lull in the tour schedule.
“I’ve been practicing hard and training. I feel confident about the tournament,” and well prepared for a heavy tour schedule that will follow, she said.
The pro golf tour consists largely of hotel rooms and golf courses, but Lee can sometimes get out and enjoy the wider surroundings, as she will try to do during upcoming stops in Thailand and Singapore.
Last year Lee, who is Korean American, took advantage of the chance to visit her grandfather, then 91 years old, when she played the LPGA’s BMW Ladies Championship in Wonju, South Korea.
Lee first fell hard for the challenges and rigors of golf as a child.
“My dad [James Lee] introduced me to it when I was 5, and I fell in love with it right off bat,” she said.
“Golf is difficult, it requires a lot of patience, and it can’t be perfected no matter how hard you work at it. It’s very rewarding, and humbling.
“And I love competing against the best in the world. It gets me up in the morning and keeps me grinding toward my goals.”
She keeps her down time simple.
“I spend a lot of time with my parents, taking walks on the beach, and I like to eat good food,” she said, mentioning Korean food, sushi and “good pasta.”
Asked if she had a favorite golfer when she was growing up, she instantly answered “Tiger Woods.” Asked if she has a favorite golfer now, she said, “Still, Tiger.”
She mentioned his mental toughness and “the way he carries himself. His mental game is arguably the strongest of anyone in the game, and that’s what everyone strives for. He is so focused.”
The DIO Implant LA Open will be held Thursday, March 30 through Sunday, April 2 at the Palos Verdes Golf Club. For more information, including ticket package prices, see www.la-open.com, and on social media @lpga_LA on Twitter, @lpga_la on Instagram and @la.lpga on Facebook. PEN