Sights Set High
Jan. 16, 2013
PULLMAN, Wash. Redshirt sophomore Sang Lee saw the opportunity to play golf at Washington State as a stepping stone in his goal of golfing professionally. The Canada native said college wasn't always part of his plan, but upon arriving at WSU, Lee realized that collegiate athletics were a wise alternative to his original plan of trying to go straight into professional golf, as the benefits of college went beyond the golf course.
Lee started playing golf at age twelve. He began tagging along to his sister's golf lessons, and her coach saw talent in Lee and encouraged him to play. He grew up playing soccer, but quickly transitioned into a talented and successful young golfer. From the time Lee started playing golf he had his sights set high on being on the PGA Tour, and overlooked college entirely. He wanted to concentrate on playing golf full time and simply enjoying the game.
Lee said in high school he came to the realization that playing golf at the collegiate level and getting a college degree would be the right path for him. The improvements he was making in his golf game led him to believe he had the potential to earn an athletic scholarship. He was attracted to WSU, he said, by the high level of competition offered by the Pac-12 Conference, and that he would remain relatively close to home. After three years at Washington State, Lee said the student and community support of Cougar athletics is like nothing he's ever seen or felt before.
"The school is centered around athletics, and athletics is important to WSU," Lee said. "The community values it."
Lee played in all five of the tournaments the Cougars participated in during the fall season. At the Dash Thomas Memorial in Boise, Idaho, Lee shot a school record-breaking single-round score of 63. He placed fourth overall at the Bill Cullum Invitational in Simi Valley, Calif., where he shot 4-under par. Lee finished up the fall season with a scoring average of 72.8, an improvement on his average of 75.3 last year. Washington State Head Coach Garrett Clegg is pleased with Lee's performance on the course as a Cougar.
"He has improved drastically over a year and that has been fun to watch," Clegg said. "He is an extremely focused individual and is not satisfied unless he is at his best."
Lee is confident that the Cougar men's golf program is in a great position for becoming recognized as one of the best in the nation. He said he likes being part of a program that is building into something bigger and better.
His plans to play on the PGA Tour haven't changed since his arrival at Washington State. Lee expressed that he plans to turn professional when he feels ready. He says his game is ready to play against the best, but first he wants to play well in college in order to get noticed by potential sponsors, especially in the spring and his following senior year. As a professional golfer for four years, coach Clegg knows what it takes to get to the professional level, and is confident that Sang is on the right track.
"He is very motivated to become a great golfer and his motivation comes from within," Clegg said. "You need to have something special about you. Sang has some of the skills, but needs to continue to improve in order to make that type of leap." Lee is no stranger to that fact that he has work to do, and has his ideas of what it will take to make it onto the Tour.
"Many sacrifices," Lee said. "Hard work and all that is obvious, but you have to be able to make sacrifices and prioritize. I have to put the goal ahead of the temptations of life that may distract me from my ambitions."
Wherever his future takes him, Lee knows he wants to stay within the sport and business of golf after college. As a sport management major and a business minor who speaks Korean fluently, Lee would like to explore the idea of developing a business that helps kids from Korea get an education in America while golfing - if he does not become a professional golfer. He says that golf is becoming more popular in Korea and he sees this as a potential business investment.
"I am really excited to see what the future holds for Sang," Clegg says.
Official Website of Washington State University Athletics | Bohler Athletic Complex | PO Box 641602 Pullman, WA 99164-1602 | 1.800.GO.COUGS