There was only one player being stopped, by other players, for photos around the packed practice green at Victoria Golf Club on Tuesday.
Minjee Lee’s presence looms large over the first ever dual-gender Australian Open and the world No.5 posed for a few excited fellow pros as an acknowledgment of her star-status which may not be quite reflected at home.
But any sense the two-time major winner is an “invisible champion” to an Australian sporting public who hoist winners higher than most could be put to bed if the future Karrie Webb sees for Lee comes to pass.
Webb is arguably Australia’s most successful golfer, her seven majors more than any of her compatriots, Peter Thomson‘s’s five, all Open Championships, next best.
But she sees in 26-year-old Lee, who won the hardest major of them all in a four-shot romp at this year’s US Open, all the ingredients to take Webb’s record on.
Webb even thinks Lee could be “off a running” on her way to multiple majors with two in the bank already.
“There’s a lot of great players that should have won more majors so it’s not it’s not about not having the ability to do it. It’s, you know, being in the right place at the right time and then getting the job done,” Webb, who will join Lee in the field at this week’s Open, said.
“But I really think that, you know, I think Minjee now getting that couple of majors under her belt, I think especially a big one like the US Open, I think she’ll sort of be off and running with majors.
“And you know, whether she’s winning them all, she’ll definitely be contending a lot.”
Hannah Green won a major herself in 2019, but conceded that when herself and Lee aren’t winning the attention they get “ dies off a little bit”.
But that hasn’t take the gloss off a banner year from Lee, which resulted in her finishing just behind Lydia Ko in the player of the year stakes.
“It happens and probably happens in all other sports. But I mean, I wouldn’t consider Minji invisible,” Green said.
“I mean she almost got to world number one this year, won two events, one of then was the US Open, she’s made a lot of money in her career. She definitely shouldn’t be considered like that for me.”
In her own right, Webb is every bit a household name in Australia after a Hall of Fame career which included stints as world No.1.
Lee got close in 2022, rising to No.2 before tailing off late, but still netting more than $5 million in earnings.
Attention aside Webb, who has stayed closely involved with so many of the talented female Australian golfers plying their trade around the world, thinks there’s something crucial in Lee’s game which could ensure her time in the spotlight will only grow.
“It’s the temperament. She doesn’t get too high or too low. And for me, I think that‘s the best way to play golf,” Webb said.
“I think that the ups and downs and emotions, it’s hard enough out there without trying to pick yourself up or bring yourself down you know, so trying to stay as even as possible is a good, good asset to have.”