If Dan Hicks had been wearing a lapel mic, it would have picked up the whoosh of his jaw on its way to the floor.
It was the week before the Masters, and a visibly pumped Johnny Miller had just added Danny Lee, the precocious 18-year-old U.S. Amateur champion and imminent PGA Tour sensation, to the list of players he believed were capable of winning it all at Augusta National.
Hicks was audibly stunned; he looked like he might swallow his tie. A teenaged amateur rookie winning the Masters? Come on, he seemed to say.
It was an eyebrow-raiser, to be sure, and to some likely seemed a preposterous suggestion. Miller wasn’t saying Lee would win it all, however _ only that he could.
The guy Miller actually did say would win? The guy who did: Angel Cabrera.
The lesson? Johnny Miller knows what he’s talking about. Which could well mean the same is true of Lee, a New Zealander via South Korea who’s known for straight talk and supreme confidence, but who seems to have the game to back it up, if his stunning February win at the Johnnie Walker Classic is any indication.
Which brings us to the latest news (sorry, I buried the lede). Lee, who just surrendered his amateur status this week, has signed on for a full ride with . . . Callaway Golf, which will no doubt create an interesting dynamic with Callaway frontman Phil Mickelson.
Callaway Golf signs U.S. Amateur Champion Danny Lee
Worlds no. 1-ranked amateur enters professional career on Callaway staff
Concord, ON, April 22, 2009 “ Callaway Golf Company has announced an agreement with reigning U.S. Amateur Champion Danny Lee, officially beginning the professional career of the worlds No. 1-ranked amateur. Lee will endorse all Callaway Golf equipment and golf balls, carry a Callaway Golf branded bag and wear the Companys logo. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
I am happy to have Callaway Golfs support as I begin this exciting new phase of my life, said Lee. Ive been playing with Callaways equipment and golf balls during this important time in my career because I feel they put me in the best position to win. Now the stakes have been raised and Im glad Callaway is with me as I meet the challenges ahead.
Lee, 18, earned significant attention last August when he unseated Tiger Woods and became the youngest player ever to win the U.S. Amateur. His remarkable amateur career gained another shot of momentum in February, when he won the Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia. This professional event was sanctioned by the European, Australian and Australasian tours and drew top talent from around the globe, including PGA Tour standouts Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas.
When a rising star such as Danny is lighting up the amateur ranks and winning professional events while playing with your clubs and golf ball, its hard not to get excited, said Nick Raffaele, Vice President of Sports Marketing, Callaway Golf. Were proud to be with Danny as he embarks on his professional career. This young mans talent and work ethic are as impressive as his character.
Lee competed in his first PGA Tour event in August 2008 at the Wyndham Championship and impressively posted four rounds in the 60s en route to a T20 finish. He is expected to make his professional debut on the PGA Tour April 23rd at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Lee was born on July 24, 1990.
ABOUT CALLAWAY GOLF
Through an unwavering commitment to innovation, Callaway Golf Company creates products and services designed to make every golfer a better golfer. Callaway Golf Company manufactures and sells golf clubs and golf balls, and sells golf accessories, under the Callaway Golf®, Odyssey®, Top-Flite®, Ben Hogan® and uProâ€ž¢ brands in more than 110 countries worldwide. For more information please visit www.callawaygolf.com/ca.