Korean-born New Zealand teenage golfer Danny Lee, who became the youngest US amateur champion this week, was being hailed as the next Tiger Woods Tuesday in his adopted country.
Lee was 18 years and 32 days old when he won the title at Pinehurst, North Carolina, 6 months and 29 days younger than Woods when he took the first of three successive US Amateur championships in 1994.
The win guaranteed that Lee could tee off in next year's US and British opens if he remains an amateur, something he has pledged to do until he represents New Zealand in the Eisenhower Trophy teams championship in October in Adelaide.
Lee, whose family emigrated nine years ago from Korea, will become a New Zealand citizen in a ceremony at his home club on September 2 in Rotorua.
His mother, Seo Jin Lee, herself a good golfer with a 5 handicap, told the New Zealand Herald that she had taught Danny to play when he was 8, and that the secret of his success was his dedication.
She said he had not had a holiday since then: "just practice, practice, practice."
Mark Lavery, coach at the golfing academy of Lee's high school, said he was nicknamed Danny the Machine because he hits the ball so straight.
"I've never seen anyone execute a golf ball so consistently," Lavery said.
He said that Lee would give Woods a run for his money in next year's US Open.
"He's got that self-belief," Lavery said. "He'll be chasing Tiger. He'll have him in his sights." ( dpa )