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We’ve all been there. Any average golfer has experienced the frustration of trying to put a little white ball in a hole hundreds of yards away. Sometimes those frustrations boil over. The end result can sometimes be a club tossed in the nearby pond or snapped over the knee. For PGA Tour professional Danny Lee at the U.S. Open this past weekend, it resulted in a withdrawal from the tournament. But only after he had done something that every single golfer can painfully understand and sympathize with on his final hole of play.

Danny Lee’s amateur career

In August 2008, Danny Lee served notice to the rest of the golf world as an amateur when he broke Tiger Woods’ record becoming the youngest ever winner of the U.S. Amateur at 18 years and one month, six months younger than Woods. At the same time, the native New Zealander earned the No. 1 amateur world ranking. 

In February 2009, Lee won the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia, a professional tournament co-sanctioned by the European, Asian, and Australasian tours. He became the youngest ever winner on the European Tour and only the second amateur winner. 

A couple of months later, Lee made his first appearance in a major tournament at the Masters. After a first-round 74 and firing an impressive 34 on the front nine during his second round, Lee appeared to be in prime position to make the weekend cut. 

Then, disaster struck. On the 10th hole, Lee had a six-putt that led to a quintuple bogey. Not surprisingly, his game fell apart after that hole. He finished with a score of 11-over par and missed the cut. It was a foreshadowing of things to come.

Danny Lee’s professional career

Danny Lee turned professional after the Masters, which meant he forfeited his right as the U.S. Amateur champ to play in the 2009 U.S. Open and 2009 Open Championship. 

After using various sponsors exemptions in 2009, Lee earned his Nationwide Tour card late in 2010 before the 2011 season. That following year, Lee performed well enough to earn his PGA Tour card. Since then, Lee has bounced back and forth between the different tours.

In 2015, Danny Lee had his best season earning his first PGA Tour win at the Greenbrier Classic. He also had multiple top-10 finishes that season at the John Deere Classic, Quick Loans National, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship. He finished in 9th place in the FedEx Cup standings. 

Lee six-putts 18th at Winged Foot, slams club, then withdraws

In the 2020 season, Danny Lee had another solid year on Tour earning three top-10s and finishing 45th in the FedEx Cup rankings with more than $2 million in earnings. This past weekend Lee joined the world’s top golfers in New York at the famed Winged Foot Golf Club for the U.S. Open.

After solid scores of 70 and 75 on the challenging course, Lee made the weekend cut. On Saturday, Lee shot 2-over par on the front nine, and stood on the 18th tee 3-over par for this round. Following his drive and approach, Lee had four feet remaining for his par. 

He missed his first putt to the left, and the ball slid four feet past the hole. On his second putt, again, the ball moved past the hole on the left side stopping a few feet away. With frustration obviously mounting, Lee aggressively swiped at the ball with his third putt and sent it whizzing past the hole with it stopping eight feet away. 

From that point, Lee wasn’t even concerned with aiming as he just approached the ball and putted. After six putts, he settled for a quintuple bogey. He then walked over to his bag, and angrily slammed his putter into the bag twice before walking away. Lee withdrew from the tournament following his round, citing a wrist injury.  

Danny Lee’s 18th hole meltdown at the U.S. Open was a moment rarely seen on the professional level, but it was a moment all amateurs can relate to. His outburst was also a reminder for golf fans that even the best in the world can have bad holes and it makes what they do on a consistent basis all that more impressive.

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