Ranked No. 5 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Andrea Lee has had an exceptional fall season. The Stanford sophomore has won three out of four tournaments she’s played – the Branch Law Firm-Dick McGuire, Stanford Intercollegiate and Nanea Pac-12 Preview. She also finished T3 at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate presented by 3M in early October. A four-time ANNIKA Invitational USA participant, Lee also enjoyed an impressive junior career. She was a member of the Rolex Junior All-American First Team from 2012-2015, awarded 2014 Rolex Junior Player of the Year, finished 69th in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open and represented the United States in the 2016 Curtis Cup and World Amateur Team Championship.
We recently caught up with Andrea after her fall season ended. Here’s what she had to say.
What is your favorite food?
Korean BBQ and sushi
What is the best concert you have ever been to?
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring and why?
I would bring my dog, Toki, because she would be the best companion. She would fight off any dangers that I’d have on the island (not really though because she’s only 6 pounds). I’d also bring a hammock so that I can tie it to some trees, and just relax while swinging in the breeze. The last thing I’d bring would be a guitar. I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, so if I’m going to be stranded on a deserted island, there’s no better time to learn.
Who is your favorite golfer?
How do you spend your free time outside of golf?
I like to exercise, shop, watch movies with my parents, spend time with my friends, play with my dog, and take naps or rest.
Who is your biggest role model and why?
I’m not saying this just because I’m being interviewed by the ANNIKA Foundation, but my biggest role model is Annika Sorenstam. She is one of the most iconic female golfers in history, and has achieved so much during her career both on and off the golf course. She has continuously been committed to supporting junior and collegiate golf, and I admire her love for growing the game.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I wouldn’t really consider it a big talent, but I love to sing. I enjoy going to karaoke with my mom or my friends.
What is your greatest memory while playing college golf so far?
My greatest college golf memory so far was competing in the NCAA Championships. It’s a different environment— the event is the pinnacle of collegiate golf, and every team is vying for the national title. It is definitely one of the longest weeks of golf that I have ever experienced, but it was very special to share every moment of it with my coaches and teammates. One thing I love about this tournament is the match play format, and it’s very different from any other match play event. We are competing for each other, for our school, and battling it out against every team. I just remember the energy, and how we were all constantly cheering for one another and firing each other up on the course. The whole week was a grind, but being a part of our team at that level of competition was one of the most memorable experiences that I have ever had. We had the opportunity to reach the Semifinals of the event this past year, and although we didn’t come out on top, it was an amazing week that I’ll never forget.
Why did you start playing golf?
My dad first introduced me to golf when I was 5 years old, and at the time, I was involved in many different activities such as soccer, ice skating, piano, and tae kwon do. I started getting golf lessons, and just fell in love with the sport. It was fun, challenging, and I wanted to become better every day. Once I started actually competing in tournaments when I was 8, I never wanted to stop.
What is your favorite golf tournament you have ever played in so far?
My favorite golf tournament that I’ve ever played in was the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst. I was fifteen years old and it was my first time competing in a professional event, let alone a major championship. The experience was everything that I had imagined it would be and more. I had the chance to play a practice round with Brittany Lang, Angela Stanford, Mo Martin, and Michelle Wie, who actually ended up winning the tournament! I made the cut that week with my dad on the bag, and to just have him by my side the entire time made the experience even more special.
Do you have any advice to share with aspiring female golfers who are just starting to play the game?
Enjoy every moment and believe in yourself. It can be really easy to get caught up on a bad shot, hole, or round, but you have to just shake it off and move forward. Having a positive attitude is crucial both on and off the golf course in order to improve. Golf can be a frustrating game, but if you work hard and believe in yourself, it will all pay off in the end.
How do you balance the life of a student-athlete? What do you find the most difficult/ the easiest?
Balancing the life of a student-athlete is definitely not easy, but it is something that I have gotten used to during my time at Stanford. I think the most difficult thing for me was learning how to efficiently manage my time. Student-athletes have to balance athletics and academics, maintain grades, and work diligently in our respective sports. We miss multiple days of school in a row during the season, and have to make up all of the homework, papers, and exams when we return. But it’s a lifestyle that all student athletes become accustomed to, and I’ve definitely learned many things and have grown as a person because of my experiences so far. I don’t think there’s anything easy about being a student-athlete, but I think the best part about being one is knowing that I am a part of a very special community. We all understand the time commitment and hardships about being a student-athlete, and we’re able to share these experiences with one another.
You have had an incredible 2017-18 season so far winning 3 out of 4 events you played. How do you feel about the rest of the season? Do you feel any added pressure being the “go-to person,” as Coach Walker said, for Stanford?
I’m very excited and looking forward to the rest of the season, and I hope to bring with me the confidence that I’ve had during the fall to our upcoming events. I don’t feel any pressure about being the “go-to person,” but I’m honored that I can be someone that my teammates can rely on. I work hard to improve on my own game, but we all push each other to do our best and we feed off one another’s strengths. Our team has a lot of depth and we’re all very competitive, which is a reason why I think I’ve become a better player.
What would you say is your biggest weakness in your game right now? Biggest strength?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have a clear weakness in my game right now, but chipping and short game in general is always the area that I constantly try to improve on. I would consider my biggest strengths to be driving the ball and my approach shots into the green.
What changes/improvements do you think can be made to further support women’s golf?
I think it would be great if U.S. amateurs could have more opportunities to compete in major championships and professional events. I’ve had the chance to play in the ANA Inspiration the last few years thanks to sponsor exemptions, so I think it’d be amazing if we were to have more opportunities like this throughout the year. I believe it would really help support women’s golf.
Do you set goals for yourself for the season? If so, what are they? What are your team’s goals?
One of my biggest goals for this season is to win the ANNIKA Award. It would be such an honor to win something in Annika’s name. I was grateful to be considered one of the finalists last year, but hopefully I’ll be able to pull through this season. Our team’s goal in the spring, just like every other team in the country, is to come out with a win at the NCAA Championships. As I mentioned before, we had the opportunity to reach the semifinals last year which was very special, but the national title is ultimately what our team is striving for.
Currently ranked #1 on the most recent ANNIKA Award Watch List, Andrea is off to a great start in her quest to win. The sophomore is already planning to play at the professional level after graduation with hopes of fulfilling her dream of making it on the LPGA. With Andrea’s career so far, it does not seem far out of reach. As she mentioned, “Golf can be a frustrating game, but if you work hard and believe in yourself, it will all pay off in the end.”
We look forward to watching Andrea throughout the rest of the 2017-18 season!