An only child, Andrea Lee began playing golf at the age of five, guided by her father James. At eight she was already competing in tournaments, with her mother Sunny a spectator and her father as her caddy.
After a brilliant junior golf career (she won 40 titles in four years), Andrea began her university studies at Stanford in 2016, where she enrolled in the science, technology and society faculty. Her outstanding golfing talent was already apparent in her first university year, securing three victories in the five championships she competed in, and recording the lowest average score per round (71.62 strokes) at Stanford – and almost achieving the lowest university score in history. She eventually climbed, of course, to the top of the US amateur ranking.
he pre-university achievements of this young woman born 20 years ago in Hermosa Beach, a city in Los Angeles County (California), were highlighted by her participation, aged just 15, in the 2014 US Women’s Open, where she made the cut and finished 69th. Also, for four years in a row, from 2012, she was a member of the Rolex Junior All-American First Team; in 2014 she was elected Junior Player of the Year and was a semi-finalist in the US Women’s Amateur; in 2015 she won the silver medal at the Pan American Games and won the Southern California Amateur; and in 2016 she finished second in the Canadian Women’s Amateur and the US Junior Girls Championships, and represented the United States in the Curtis Cup and the World Amateur Team Championship.
This year, her last at the university, she began in fifth place in the amateur world rankings and, thanks to her superb performances (semi-finalist in the US Women's Amateur; third in the Canadian Women's Amateur Championship; making the cut in the US Women's Open ), by summer she was once again perched at the top of the classification, a position she had held the previous year for seven weeks.
In April she competed in the inaugural edition of the Augusta National Women's Amateur, and in August the USGA and R&A (the two organisations that govern world golf) awarded her the Mark H. McCormack Medal, an honour that also entitles her to tee up next year in the US and British Women’s Opens – if she maintains her amateur status.
"Receiving the McCormack Medal is a great honour and is one of the most rewarding achievements of my amateur career," said Lee. “It shows that all my hard work over the past year has really been worth it, and being at the top of the rankings is a very surreal feeling. This will serve as another motivation to continue working towards my goals in the sport.”
Andrea, who has carded four holes-in-one and two albatrosses so far, is one of the most decorated golfers in the history of Stanford University, equalling the university's record with eight individual victories. She was part of the first WGCA All-America team for the third consecutive year, and was one of the five finalists of the Annika Award, awarded annually to the outstanding player of the year. The young Californian has been a member of the American team in two editions of the Curtis Cup and one of the Women's World Cup.
Now it remains to be seen if, when she does turn professional, she will be able to gain a foothold in the increasingly competitive and "Asian-dominated" world of women's golf.
WHEN SHE HAS FREE TIME
In the little spare time she has left after practising and competing, the young Californian enjoys watching movies, shopping, singing, bowling and snowboarding. Not these days, but Andrea has competed in football, taekwondo and ice skating.
DREAM COME TRUE
Andrea's great dream that came true was walking with her father, as caddy, on the 18th fairway at Pinehurst during the 2014 US Women's Open. She was just 15 years old and had played a practice round with Michelle Wie, who eventually was the winner of her first and until now only major.
SPECIAL HUG AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL
During the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Andrea felt especially well-supported, especially by one of the famous club’s members, Condoleezza Rice. The former secretary of state welcomed her with a large hug. Perhaps the fact that Rice is a professor at Stanford University, where Andrea was studying, had something of an influence.