Commentary

For Richard H. Lee, experience paid off

Updated: December 22, 2011, 3:44 PM ET
By Farrell Evans | ESPN.com

Former University of Washington golfer Richard H. Lee played his last five holes in 5-under to earn his PGA Tour card at Q-school in early December after missing out at the tournament last year by a shot. Lee, who finished 37th on the 2011 Nationwide Tour money list, is an old soul even at 24 years old, and the Washington native shares some of the wisdom and insight he learned from starting a family while he was still in college and a piece of advice he got from his mother-in-law.


I have been in the zone before. But the last day of Q-school this year was different. I had so much peace. There was nothing that could go wrong. You're so focused on that shot you're about to hit that you don't think about anything negative. It's easier.

[+] EnlargeRichard H. Lee
Stan Badz/PGA/Getty ImagesAt Q-school in 2010, Richard H. Lee struggled down the stretch and missed getting his card by a single shot. In 2011, he rallied at the end to play his way on to the PGA Tour in 2012.

I started golfing when I was about 14. So I started pretty late. I didn't have a private course that I belonged to or anything like that. I grew up playing municipal courses around the Seattle area. It wasn't until I got to the University of Washington that I got access to nicer courses. I have had the same swing coach since I was 16. His name is Joe Thiel and he's been like a father figure to me.

My mother-in-law told me to welcome the ball, meaning wherever the ball ends up, just welcome the situation. I know that if I can accept the situation, I know that everything will be fine. It keeps me from being too excited or too frustrated on the golf course. It's the single best piece of advice that I have ever received about the game.

I grew up looking up to Tiger Woods, but also as a Korean-American, I looked up to K.J. Choi a lot. I'm looking forward to meeting both of them this year, especially K.J., who has a great demeanor on the golf course. He's never up or down. I was born in the States, but I moved back to Korea from about the ages of 3 to 10. So I know the Korean culture pretty well.

I got married when I was 18 years old, and about a year after that we had our daughter. I have known my wife, Christine, since I was about 10, so I had a different college experience than most people. I definitely had a different lifestyle from my teammates. But I wouldn't change it for anything. Being a father and a husband has taught me how to better manage my time. I have a different perspective on life. Golf isn't everything.

I bogeyed two out of my last four holes to miss getting my card by a shot at the 2010 Q-school. But having to play the Nationwide Tour this year was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. I learned so much about how to live on the road and play golf courses. I'm an a lot more mature and confident player now than I was a year ago.

I love playing basketball, but my body is my job and I have to take care of it.

During my senior year at Washington, the team was out practicing at the Washington National Golf Club. Our coach took us out to the par-5 17th hole. There is water surrounding the hole. Coach had us hitting 3-woods from about 250 yards into the green. On one shot, I accidently threw my 3-wood into the water. So I immediately took off my clothes and I jumped into freezing cold water to try to retrieve my golf club. I couldn't save the club. Everybody gave me a hard time about that.

Farrell Evans covers golf for ESPN and can be contacted at evans.espn@gmail.com.